Playground robbers 'Ireland's meanest thieves'
ROBBERS who stole slides from children's playgrounds so they could sell them as scrap metal have been branded Ireland's meanest thieves.
The gang are set to make thousands of euro by selling on the steel that the slides are made from.
But the theft has left a bill of some €8,000 for the local council who will have to replace them -- with something that will not attract thieves.
"This is like taking a toy off a child," said Councillor Marianne Butler, the chairwoman of the town council in Dundalk.
Not just one but two playgrounds in Dundalk have been targeted by the gang.
Ms Butler, who regularly brings her niece to the playground in Dundalk, said: "This is the lowest of the low, they have to be Ireland's meanest thieves."
"Playgrounds are free amenities in this economic climate and provide great fun for children.
"The thieves have stolen the slides from all the children of the town," she added.
She has called for regulations to be introduced similar to those in use in the north of England where she said scrap metal theft was also a problem.
"Everybody selling scrap metal should have to produce photographic identity and proof of address," to the scrapyard they sell to, she said.
She is concerned that the men carrying out such thefts could be passing themselves off as legitimate workmen and has appealed for anybody with information on the thefts to contact the gardai in Dundalk.
In a statement, the town council said that two slides were taken from St Helena's Park and one was removed from the Muirhevnamor estate.
All thefts were made within the past week and the council said it was "examining alternative play equipment and it is unlikely that the steel slides will be directly replaced".
It does not want to spend money on equipment made from metal that would make it a target for similar crime in the future.
It also warned that the equipment could only be replaced "as funding becomes available".
The council said it had reported the thefts to the gardai. The council is also working "to make safe the three sites from which the slides were stolen", so the rest of the playground equipment is still available for children to use.