Saturday 15 December 2018

Shot fired at gardai as they pursue suspected burglary gang in Kildare

Shot fired over officer's head

Gardai in Balbriggan are investigating
Gardai in Balbriggan are investigating

Ken Foy and Ralph Riegel

A detective garda has escaped serious injury after a shot was fired over his head during a pursuit of a burglary gang across Co Kildare.

The terrifying incident unfolded late last night and a man fired a shotgun at gardai that had been in pursuit of a black Audi car.

One shot went over the head of one officer who managed to escape injury.

The Audi estate car - with a partial registration of 151 G -  was suspected of being involved in a number of burglaries in the Cork and Tipperary area.

One raid in New Inn in Tipperary saw a high-powered vehicle and a gun safe with three firearms in it stolen.

The Audi was spotted by gardai around the Monasterevin area of Kildare at around 9.30pm last night. Officers observed the car driving at speed through Monasterevin, over the draw bridge, Main Street and on towards the Kildare Road.

The car was observed driving at speed by a number of garda units.

A short time later, the black Audi was observed by a Garda unit at an area known as Ashgrove.

Officers followed the car, stopping it at nearby Larch Hill.

A man sitting in the front passenger seat got out of the car armed with a shotgun, and fired a shot that went over a detective garda's head.

Nobody was injured during the incident.

A number of armed garda units were made aware of the incident and responded.

At 10.30pm, a silver Hyundai car was stopped at Pollardstown in Newbridge.

Three men - aged 23, 27 and 32 years of age - were arrested and are currently in custody in Portlaoise and Tullamore garda stations.

The latest incident comes as gardai are battling to curb a renewed blitz of rural burglaries conducted by Dublin-based crime gangs.

More than 40 burglaries have been recorded in one area of Cork since mid-October with suspected burglaries by Dublin gangs also taking place in Tipperary, Waterford, Limerick, Offaly, Laois and Kilkenny.

The Midlands has also witnessed a burglary blitz involving two aggravated raids where residents were threatened during break-ins.

A notorious Limerick gang are believed to have been involved in the brutal aggravated burglary of a 54-year-old Offaly farmer last weekend.

During the burglary, carried out by a four-member gang with distinctive Munster accents, the raiders beat the farmer’s dog until the terrified animal fled the farmhouse.

The farmer was then himself beaten with an iron bar before being dragged out to the farmyard and locked in a shed.

The revelation came as Birr Gardaí appealed to anyone who travelled on the main N62 Birr to Roscrea road between late Friday evening and early on Saturday morning to contact them if they spotted anything unusual or suspicious.

The 54-year-old farmer managed to free himself from the shed and raise the alarm in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The man is said by locals to be “very shocked” by the incident.

Gardaí suspect the gang fled the area in a powerful 4x4jeep car.

The robbery took place on a farm at Glasderrybeg, Brosna, near Birr, and just off the N62 road.

Superintendent Martin Cashen said it was “a very serious incident”.

“We would appeal to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious or even something just out of the ordinary in the area to contact us,” he said.

“In particular, we would like to hear about any suspicious persons or vehicles in the Drumakeenan and Glassderrybeg areas on the N62 Birr to Roscrea road that was noticed in the days leading up to the incident.”

Gardaí are also checking CCTV security camera footage from towns and villages in the area to try to trace the movements of any vehicles matching the description of the 4x4 used.

While inquiries are only at a preliminary stage, gardaí do not believe that Dublin gangs who have been terrorising parts of the Midlands and Munster over recent weeks are responsible for the Brosna attack.

One Garda source said the farm raid is believed to have been conducted by a Limerick-based gang who have repeatedly targeted farms across Munster and south Leinster for cash and valuable farm machinery such as generators, quad-bikes and chain-saws, which are then sold on.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) warned it was now clear that gardaí in rural areas needed greater resources, including additional manpower and increased patrols, to combat the burglary trend.

IFA security chairman Jer Bergin said upset at recent raids will be dealt with at association branch meetings nationwide before Christmas.

Mr Bergin said the IFA works extremely closely with gardaí to promote rural security and would now be demanding better resources for the force.

In just one Cork area, there were six burglaries recorded between 4pm and 9pm last Friday.

The special Garda crackdown on rural crime, Operation Thor, has proved a great success but rural campaigners have warned it now requires increased resources and tactical flexibility.

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