'Appallingly cruel' gang distract grieving sister (73) with 'map question', steal €5k funeral cash
Gardaí are hunting an eastern European gang who stole €5,000 from a 73-year-old woman in Co Waterford who had just taken the cash from a bank to pay for her brother's funeral.
Detectives believe the gang - comprised of two men and two women in their 20s or 30s - are responsible for a number of distraction-style thefts in Waterford, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Dublin and Wexford over the past month.
Another brother of the 73-year-old woman, who had the cash stolen from her in Dungarvan, west Waterford, described it as "an appallingly cruel and mean-spirited crime".
The man, who wants his family to remain anonymous, said the cash had been withdrawn from a Dungarvan bank minutes earlier by his sister.
The 79-year-old had been buried just four days before the cash was stolen from his sister.
"It was tough enough for our family to deal with my brother's death, but this has just caused so much upset," he said.
"How can anyone target an elderly woman like this? It is just terrible. My sister was heartbroken by our brother's death but this devastated her."
The €5,000 had been saved up by the 79-year-old man out of his pension over a 10-year period.
The money was to pay for his own funeral as the pensioner didn't want to impose any financial burden on his family.
"My sister was clearly watched in the bank," her brother said.
"She was then followed by a woman and, when she came to the church and stopped because a funeral was taking place, she was approached from behind by a foreign-sounding man.
"He showed her a map and then asked her for directions in broken English."
The man appeared very confused to the elderly woman.
"My sister pointed out to him that it was a map of the UK and not Ireland. The fella then said 'sorry' and left.
"It was a short time later my sister realised that the money had been taken from her bag."
Gardaí believe they have images of one of the female gang members from CCTV footage.
Detectives also believe the gang are responsible for thefts over recent weeks in Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel and Kilkenny.
Gardaí have appealed for anyone with information to contact Dungarvan gardaí on (058) 48600.