Gardaí track €1.7m jewel haul found in crime gang crackdown
Gardaí have recovered a major haul of stolen jewellery that had been taken by travelling gangs from victims' homes in three provinces.
The jewellery was seized from a wholesale second-hand gold merchants during a three-month operation by officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
Most of the organised gangs involved in nationwide burglaries trade mainly in cash and jewellery and the special operation was set up to target the receivers of their nightly hauls.
The number of burglaries has dropped by around 10pc since the launch of the garda's new initiative, Operation Thor, in November.
Most of the garda divisions have recorded a drop over the past three months.
But two major blackspots remain in Dublin west and in the southeast of the country.
The bureau's breakthrough against the jewel burglars arose out of an interception of items being handed over by members of a gang to a receiver.
The handover took place outside a fast food premises in west Dublin.
Undercover detectives had placed some of those involved under surveillance for several weeks and moved in when they spotted the haul being moved from one vehicle to another.
It was later established that the intercepted haul had been stolen two hours previously in a burglary in south Co Dublin.
Gardaí raided a business premises and recovered documentation relating to over 1,000 items, which were later valued at over €1.7m.
The business was unable to account for the jewels in its paperwork and inquiries are currently under way to establish how many of the items were stolen.
The positively identified items were taken in 20 separate burglaries by travelling gangs from households in Galway, Limerick, Kerry, the Midlands, Dublin and Wexford.
Gardaí have arrested and questioned a number of suspects.
In tandem with the investigation, inquiries are under way by the Criminal Assets Bureau into the financial affairs of those suspected of receiving the stolen jewellery.
Last month, the Irish Independent disclosed that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is also focusing on the kingpins of half a dozen travelling gangs, believed to be responsible for a large portion of the attacks that have terrorised urban and rural communities.
The bulk of the members of the targeted gangs operate out of bases in south and west Dublin, although some have moved into counties Wexford and Kildare.
Senior garda officers say Thor has had a very significant impact on what they describe as IRTCs (inter-regional travelling criminals) by disrupting their use of the network of national roads to launch nightly sprees into rural areas from their Dublin bases.