Crackdown on 'jugging' after spate of robberies
An organised crime gang has stolen hundreds of thousands of euro in a spate of "bank jugging" thefts across Ireland.
Gardaí are targeting the gang after a spike in the crime - which involves putting bank customers under surveillance to identify those withdrawing large sums of money.
Once the victim is identified, other members of the gang trail them before robbing them of the money.
The gang now under Garda investigation is understood to be made up of 12 of Dublin's most prolific robbers.
Four of the key gang associates are teenagers, including two 15-year-olds, who live in different Dublin towns along the Meath border.
They are suspected of being heavily involved in the gang's robberies.
A senior source explained: "A good level of planning goes into these heists.
"One spotter goes into a bank to determine a target who is withdrawing a significant amount of cash.
"Other gang members who are waiting outside in what is usually a stolen car are then alerted and track the target until they stop somewhere for lunch or go to a store.
"They then move quickly by smashing their way into the car and stealing the sum of cash that has just been withdrawn by the bank customer."
Some of the thugs have been involved in the specialised crime for well over a decade and Garda chiefs have now ordered a crackdown on them.
Officers had previously dealt a major blow to the gang, with most of its hierarchy being jailed, but there are now fears that they have regrouped.
They are led by two 47-year-old Dublin men who are linked to a wider network of more than 50 associates including women and children, carrying out bank jugging robberies across Ireland.
One of these mob bosses, who lives in west Dublin, was previously jailed over a significant theft from a female bank customer in the south-east in which around €10,000 was taken.
The crime gang are under investigation after an increase in bank jugging thefts was reported in a number of counties last month.
The spike in crime has led to gardaí in certain divisions, including Longford and Laois, issuing warnings about jugging to the public.
To combat the gang, gardaí have identified the 'dirty dozen' and have made them the prime targets for both local and national officers.
One prolific associate is just a teenager but has been linked to bank thefts between Cork and Donegal.
The 19-year-old Tallaght man, one of the few gang associates who is currently behind bars, has previously been linked to bank jugging raids in both counties which netted close to €8,000.