Tuesday 17 September 2019

Armed gardaí deployed as gang target OAPs in graveyards and tourist spots

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Ken Foy

Armed gardaí have been deployed to crack down on a crime gang responsible for targeting vulnerable OAPs as they visit graves.

The Tallaght-based gang have also been operating in popular tourist destinations in the Wicklow area.

There has been a major increase in thefts and burglaries in recent weeks, but gardaí are hopeful that the situation may calm down after the arrest of a 22-year-old criminal who is considered the ringleader of the mob.

"In their latest move, this crew have been targeting cars that are parked at graveyards," a senior source said.

There have been seven similar thefts linked to the gang in the space of just one week in which the thugs either break into parked vehicles or ransack the cars if they are unlocked.

Purses, cash, mobile phones and any other items left in the cars have been stolen by the criminals, who are also the chief suspects for a large number of handbag snatching incidents in counties Carlow, Kildare and Wicklow.

"August is an especially busy time at graveyards because it is the month when it is most common for blessing of the graves ceremonies taking place," said the Garda source.

"People are visiting graves to place fresh flowers and plants on them and this gang have honed in on this fact and are targeting cars parked at the graveyards.

Distressing

"Most of the victims have been female and are typically aged in their 70s or 60s - it has been a very distressing experience for them."

Cars have been targeted at graveyards in Bray, Arklow, Rathdrum and Laragh, which has led gardaí to set up a special covert surveillance operation.

Gardaí have so much concern about the Tallaght gang that they have also organised armed patrols to police popular tourist destinations in Co Wicklow, along with the more discreet undercover operation at graveyards.

"When available, the Regional Support Unit (RSU) has been deployed to locations such as Glendalough, Aughrim and Enniskerry. "These are highly popular tourist locations and there are concerns that tourists will be targeted by the organised crime gang.

"By having an overt armed Garda presence, it is sending out a strong message that the activities of this gang will not be tolerated - an armed Garda presence is necessary because this is an organised crime gang," the senior source explained.

Irish Independent

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