Four men arrested in 'significant result' for new Garda offensive targeting suspected burglary gangs
Gardaí have arrested four men suspected of being members of a travelling gang responsible for a spate of burglaries.
The arrests were carried out last night after a house was burgled in Mullingar and resulted from a co-ordinated operation involving officers in several Garda regions.
The operation was hailed as the first significant result of a new winter offensive by the gardaí against the travelling gangs behind the majority of burglaries in rural Ireland.
The offensive, disclosed in yesterday's Irish Independent, was drawn up last week at a meeting chaired by Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll, who is in charge of special crime operations.
The four suspects, all members of an extended family ranging in age from 22 to 61, are from Tallaght in south Dublin. They were detained after a car was intercepted by officers at Lucan in west Dublin.
All suspects are well known to gardaí and are regarded as being linked to one of the targeted gangs.
One of the key initiatives ordered by Asst Commissioner O'Driscoll was to further enhance the exchange of information between the regions on identifying members of the main travelling gangs, the locations of their home bases and their methods of operation.
A senior officer said last night: "We were hoping for a good start to the winter phase of Operation Thor but we had not expected a major development so quickly."
A three-pronged tactic is being used against the gangs with the aid of the intelligence exchange, pinpointing the target of the burglary, the likely route used by the criminals in their escape, and their home destination.
Most of the rural burglaries are being carried out by gangs based in west and south Dublin, with two other travelling outfits based in Laois and on the Kildare-Laois border, and another with links to Limerick.