Gardai hunt on-the-run burglary gang
A hunt is under way across several counties for two members of a travelling gang believed responsible for a spate of robberies and burglaries in the West.
Gardai say the gang is originally from Tallaght in south Dublin but has family connections in other parts of the city.
The gang has been one of the prime targets of Operation Fiacla, the nationwide crackdown launched last February to curb the big rise in burglaries.
The search for the two suspects began on Thursday night when a high-powered blue Volvo car went out of control and crashed near a primary school at Belmont, Milltown, near the Galway-Mayo border.
The two men were thought to have been involved in a robbery in Hollymount, Co Mayo, beforehand and fled on foot after the crash.
The Volvo had been pursued across south Mayo and north Galway by a number of garda patrol cars.
As the hunt was stepped up throughout the district, gardai set up an armed cordon.
Officers advised locals not to approach the two men and to contact gardai immediately if they were spotted.
The cordon remained in place until yesterday afternoon but the suspects managed to avoid arrest.
Gardai said that the two, who also have links to families in the West, were likely to have either arranged for another vehicle to collect them or else robbed a car
The search operation was extended from Galway to Dublin.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that travelling gangs were carrying out between five and seven burglaries per night in Co Galway in recent months.
Garda Supt Gerry Roche told a joint policing committee in Ballinasloe that there had been an alarming increase in the number of burglaries by travelling gangs.
He said criminals were particularly focusing on houses that had unlocked doors, open windows or were not fitted with alarms.
Other gangs, using high powered cars and vans, were also breaking into commercial premises under cover of darkness and then making hasty getaways.
Last weekend gardai pursued a silver Subaru across several counties after a series of burglaries in Galway and Mayo but the search was called off after several hours because of dense fog.
Since February, Operation Fiacla has resulted in the arrest of 3,217 suspects with 1,737 of them being charged.