Paul Williams: Trauma of tiger raids leave families scarred for life
Published 04/12/2015 | 00:00
The spectre of terrifying tiger kidnappings has returned after a lull of almost five years. The prime suspect for this latest robbery specialises in such kidnaps and has also travelled abroad for military-style training.
He is highly organised and trained in counter-surveillance methods.
Gardaí previously uncovered evidence of how he used a specially-adapted surveillance van, kitted out with the latest spy gadgetry, to stalk his victims.
At the time, he told detectives that he had been using the van to watch his wife before they got married to establish if she was having an affair.
And gardaí were unable to charge him as there was insufficient evidence to prove that he had used the van for the tiger raids.
It is understood that he has been specialising in tiger kidnappings since the mid-noughties and travelled to Eastern Europe with a number of associates to be trained in surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques and firearms by ex-special forces soldiers.
In each of the robberies, the gang gave bank officials and security workers mobile phones which were modified to so they could monitor what their victims were saying.
The tiger gang also gave them bags for the cash which were lined with aluminium to prevent any hidden bugs transmitting their whereabouts.
It is understood that the kidnappings ceased after he was charged with one robbery.
Last night, detectives were working on the theory that the mastermind joined forces with the leader of another tiger gang to carry out this raid.
And it was also emerging that the gang may have been close to pulling off another record-breaking heist, amid reports that the security van at the centre of the robbery was due to collect millions in cash at Dublin airport.
The cash which was ultimately stolen was to be delivered to ATMs in the airport.
The security van was then scheduled to collect the multi-million euro delivery which was being delivered by plane, to be brought to a cash holding centre.
Tiger kidnappings are a relatively new development for organised crime gangs and first emerged in the mid-noughties.
Between 2005 and 2010 in particular, there was a spate of such robberies carried out by two Dublin gangs, one of which was subsequently broken up by gardaí.
In three tiger kidnappings alone which took place during that period, gangs got away with a whopping €11m in cash, which led to a major overhaul of security measures in banks and cash-in-transit companies.
Gardaí believe that the money from these robberies is invested by the gangs in drug deals to maximise profits.
Tiger kidnappings are particularly vicious and terrifying crimes which involve hooded, armed thugs bursting into a family home and holding the occupants hostage.
Terrified that their loved ones will come to harm, the target of the robbery is left with no choice but to do what the gang demands.
In every tiger kidnapping, a family is left deeply traumatised and often scarred for life.
That is why the gardaí will be pulling out all the stops to catch the perpetrators and stop them doing this again.