Border gang main suspects for midlands livestock raid
€10,000 reward for information on rustling of 75 cattle in Westmeath
A CROSS-BORDER rustling gang, who pay "protection" money to paramilitaries, is believed to have been behind the theft of 75 cattle and 25 sheep from a midlands farm.
Niall Dillon (34) discovered the theft from his farm at Cornaher, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath last Thursday morning when he noticed padlocks on gates had been cut. He estimates the value of the livestock to be €100,000 and described the loss as a "major blow" to his family's livelihood.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has described the massive theft as "outrageous".
The theft brings the total number of livestock stolen on this side of the Border to 950 animals over the past five years.
Senior Gardai are satisfied the Kilbeggan incident is the work of a well organised gang responsible for a spate of rustling crimes in the Border region.
Gardai are now co-operating closely with the PSNI to combat the thieves, who are understood to be handing over a slice of their profits to paramilitary figures controlling crime along the Border.
The agriculture departments, North and South, are also co-ordinating their efforts to curb the rustling.
Gardai said this was an unusually high number of animals to be taken in a single raid.