Net closing on rural gang after pattern emerges
GARDAI have made a breakthrough against a gang believed to be responsible for a rural crime spree.
Details of around 140 robberies, burglaries and thefts from homes and businesses in four counties were handed over to a special team of analysts.
They examined similarities between the crimes and identified patterns which helped investigators gain an invaluable insight into the activities of the suspects.
A report from the analysts was then presented to three assistant commissioners in charge of the worst-affected regions and an operation was drawn up to combat the gang.
The report showed clear links between crimes carried out mainly in Limerick, Clare, north Tipperary and north Cork, where property crimes had risen significantly.
Officers set up Operation Safari and quickly established that the gang had been purchasing a number of old but high-powered vehicles which they used in the raids.
Suspects were identified and follow-up inquiries led to 13 searches in three counties, including a garage where stolen car parts were recovered.
Regional detectives were backed up by members of the Criminal Assets Bureau and their involvement led to the seizure of €140,000, which had been lodged in different names in deposit accounts in banks and credit unions.
Files have been completed for the Director of Public Prosecutions and further investigations are still being carried out.
A senior officer said last night that Operation Safari showed how the force's trained analysts could play a vital role in the fight against crime and their conclusions, allied to intelligence and enquiries on the streets, could pay dividends in solving a variety of offences.
"This demonstrates how effective policing can stem from using all of the resources available to us in a cohesive way through a combination of national and local units with backroom and frontline personnel working closely together," he added.
Meanwhile, latest statistics on Operation Anvil, the nationwide drive against serious and organised criminal activity, show that 90,548 arrests have been made by gardai since it was set up in May 2005.
It was initially confined to the Dublin metropolitan area, but successes meant it was extended to the rest of the country during 2006, under the control of regional commanders.