Monday 26 September 2016

Criminals posing as gardai preying on rural motorists

Claire McCormack

Published 11/10/2015 | 02:30

Midland communities are on high alert following a shameful robbery on an elderly couple in Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath
Midland communities are on high alert following a shameful robbery on an elderly couple in Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath

Mobile criminals, posing as undercover gardai, are targeting elderly drivers on country roads as part of a sinister new scam, the Sunday Independent has learned.

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Midland communities are on high alert following a shameful robbery on an elderly couple in Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath.

Two men, impersonating plain-clothes gardai, intimidated an elderly couple into pulling over their car as they were driving on a quiet and isolated rural road.

The robbers questioned the couple on their driving in a quasi-official manner and asked them to produce identification or a driving licence.

However, once the driver took out his wallet, it was snatched from his hand and the robbers made their escape with a substantial sum of money.

Longford and Westmeath Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy (pictured) is calling on midlands communities to be on high alert.

"The methods used by the robbers in this instance were sinister. Their actions were cold and calculated," he said.

"People also have the right to demand proper identification from gardai, should they suspect foul play is involved," he said.

Mr Troy has attended meetings with local garda chiefs about this latest heartless scam to discuss ways of preventing further attacks.

Meanwhile, in Co Roscommon, public representatives are calling for the installation of CCTV cameras on all bridges in and out of the west of Ireland in a bid to catch mobile thugs.

Terry Leyden, a local Fianna Fail senator, said that introducing surveillance cameras in rural Ireland was "absolutely essential" to catch perpetrators.

"The quality of cameras today is unreal, they can identify the cars, number plates, drivers and passengers," he said.

"It's not rocket science, it's about using logical, modern technology to combat crime and it's about time this was done, we don't have to make a fuss about it, just do it."

In one town, Castlerea, the community has hit back.

After raising a staggering €20,000 through local fundraisers, collections and raffles, the community installed around 50 CCTV cameras in their town and public park. Footage from the cameras has been instrumental in catching criminals and bringing them to justice.

Paschal Fitzmaurice, the Fianna Fail councillor who spearheaded the initiative, said locals now feel safer, and he urged other towns to take the same approach.

Sunday Independent

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