Saturday 16 December 2017

GAA alert as armed gangs target clubs' ticket cash

Volunteers and staff warned to be vigilant after county board raid


The GAA has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a national alert over fears about armed gangs targeting cash at big-ticket GAA championship matches.

It follows an armed raid when a woman working for Carlow County Board was followed by masked men with sawn-off shotguns as she drove from Dr Cullen Park in Carlow.

Gardai now believe she was targeted because the thieves thought she had cash from ticket sales for the Leinster semi-final clash between Carlow and Wexford, which was played at Croke Park.

The armed gang waited as the woman left work shortly before 3pm and drove her car towards Rathvilly on Tuesday, June 21.

The thieves, who were driving a silvery-blue BMW, believed to be a 5 Series, approached the woman as she waited outside a neighbour's house in Ricketstown to collect her children. They approached the woman shouting "where's the money? Where's the money?"

They hijacked her car before making a getaway. The victim's car, a light-blue Skoda Octavia, was found abandoned in a gateway a short distance from the scene. Gardai believe there were at least three people involved in the attack.

Last week, the GAA moved to warn county and club officials that armed gangs were targeting operations where cash was handled across the country.

"This has the potential to expose our club and county units and in particular those counties still in the championship, where tickets and ticket money are being handled."

Urging GAA volunteers and officials to be extra vigilant, Croke Park added: "The persons involved in these crimes are armed and dangerous and anyone confronted in such a manner should ensure their own safety first and foremost -- don't be a hero."

They advised that it was best practice for clubs and counties that were selling tickets from a club property to bank the money on the same day where possible

"It is not advisable for units to have large sums of cash on a property overnight or where a member might be placed in a situation where they could be subjected to a hold up.

No club officer, member or volunteer should carry large quantities of cash on their person or hold at their private dwelling where they and their family could be put at risk," the warning added.

In another recent raid an armed gang beat up a petrol-station owner, poured petrol over him and threatened to set him on fire during a break-in at the man's home.

The 36-year-old victim's wife and his three children, aged one, two and four, were in the family home near Dundalk, Co Louth, when the gang struck.

A woman in her late 40s and two teenage girls were also there. They are all believed to have witnessed at least some of the attack.

All eight people were asleep in the house when a five-man gang knocked at the kitchen door.

When the door was opened by the target's wife, the gang burst in and tied her up, threatening her. They then sought out her husband upstairs and attacked him.

Gardai believe at least two of the raiders were armed with handguns. The businessman had petrol poured over him and was beaten up. They threatened to set him on fire unless he gave them money.

The attack lasted about 30 minutes, during which time the victim sustained serious facial injuries.

The gang got away with a small four-figure sum.

Sunday Independent

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