'Pay up or we'll steal your car' - Terrified families hit by gang car scam
A Dublin gang is threatening terrified residents that their cars will be damaged if they do not pay a €50 "protection fee" every day in what has been branded as a "blatant extortion racket".
The intimidation is taking place in estates in the Crumlin and Kimmage areas of the capital, with one local politician branding it the "lowest form of pathetic criminality".
Several cars have been vandalised so far with windscreens and wing mirrors broken as well as tyres being slashed.
A source said the situation is getting worse.
"This gang are openly threatening homeowners that their cars will be damaged if they do not cough up a fee of around €50 every night.
"It is a blatant form of extortion. They have absolutely no fear of being caught, and would be one of the more active groups in the area," the source said.
Fianna Fail Councillor Catherine Ardagh said locals have contacted her about the intimidation.
"The family of one resident contacted me after her windscreen was smashed in outside her home, just days after her wing mirror was pulled off. Her neighbours had also been threatened, with criminals demanding €50 to keep each car safe overnight.
"I have contacted the local gardai and I am assured that the superintendent is taking this very seriously. We cannot allow a situation where criminal thugs are threatening ordinary residents on a daily basis," she said.
The suspects in the recent terror campaign are led by a man aged in his early 20s from the Dublin 12 area.
Despite his relatively young age, the thug has several convictions for offences including drugs for the sale and supply and assault causing harm.
The gang is also believed to be behind a number of shooting incidents in the Dublin 12 area over the last year. One of the gang is currently serving a prison term for firearms offences.
Garda figures for the first three months of the year show that there were 542 recorded incidents of criminal damage to property and the environment, up 7.2pc on 2014.