Wednesday 11 December 2019

International crime groups joining forces to target electric and copper cables in Ireland

Metal theft. GETTY
Metal theft. GETTY
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

International crime groups are joining forces to target electric and copper cables in Ireland which has led to more than €100,000 worth of metal being stolen this year alone.

Gardai are monitoring a number of Irish and European crime gangs based here following a spike in metal thefts across the country in recent months.

So far this year 43 thefts have been reported at ESB sub-stations which the company says has cost more than €100,000

Today Gardaí, along with Crimestoppers and ESB Networks launched a campaign to raise awareness about metal thefts.

The head of the Garda’s Special Crime Operations (SCO) said that crime gangs are targeting one particular country before moving on to the next.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll also said that Irish criminals are involved “but obviously when others join forces and come from abroad the damage is even greater.

“Speaking with colleagues around Europe the word frequently used is poly-criminality which basically means crime gangs engaging in whatever it is that will make money for them and if they have a van or a truck, one day that will be utilised for metal theft, and it can also be used for other criminality on another day and that has happened frequently, and more frequently.

“Basically these are criminals who want to make money out of crime and whatever is the easiest way to do that they will engage in it,” Mr O’Driscoll said.

“Criminal gangs will move from one country to another where they see there may not be particular attention applied to them and they will cause the greatest damage.

“It’s more than one gang (involved), we will have our own indigenous organised crime groups but obviously when others join forces and come from abroad the damage is even greater.

“We are monitoring the activities of a number of crime groups.

“This weekend we have had some success with other law enforcement entities in discovering the whereabouts and activities of other crime groups,” the senior garda added.

This year there have been 43 break-ins at ESB Networks substations which has doubled compared to 2018 and 2017.

Paul Mulvaney, Executive Director of Network Customer Delivery at ESB, said that while there is “no going rate” for metal and copper, thefts this year have cost more than €100,000.

John Murphy, Chairman, Crimestoppers commented, added: “We are asking anyone with information on metal theft in their community to contact Crimestoppers. Any member of the public can call Crimestoppers and provide valuable information without leaving their name or any personal details. We understand that the ability to give information anonymously can often be an important incentive and could help to secure a conviction.”

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