'Hole in the roof' gang decimated shop and 'completely tore it asunder' - shopkeeper
A rural retailer whose grocery shop was robbed by the 'hole in the roof' gang has warned that the men were armed with an axe which he believes "they would have used it if they had to".
Christy Ryan's shop in Rathmoylon, Co Meath was robbed at midnight last Tuesday, when the gang cut "two big holes" in the ceiling and made their way down into the retail area.
"They seemed to have a great knowledge of my shop and its layout," he told RTE Radio One's Liveline show.
It is feared the 'hole in the roof' gang could be behind as many as a dozen robberies nationwide as several members of the public contacted RTE Radio 1's Liveline yesterday to share their stories.
Ryan said that his premises weren't fitted with an alarm but pointed out that his shop has not been robbed in the 31 years he has been trading.
"They decimated the shop and completely tore it asunder.
"They stole tobacco, cosmetics and a couple of other things.
"They even went so far as to take Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs that children love.
"Lottery scratch cards are traceable so they don't go for them, that is why I believe that tobacco should be traceable," he told presenter Joe Duffy.
The men wore balaclavas and brought several heavy tools to assist them in carrying out the raid.
CCTV footage showed one of the gang breaking into the cigarette unit using a hatchet.
"It's strange that nobody saw anything. They were on my roof at midnight and people would have been leaving licenced premises at that time.
"I believe it's a huge problem, it's happening right across the country.
“It just tears you asunder, this kind of thing," Ryan said.
Other callers, from Louth, Sligo and Longford confirmed that their retail units had been "done over" in a similar manner.
One caller, John Hughes of 'Advanced Pneumatic Technology Ltd' specialises in building safes and strong rooms.
He told Liveline that people need to be on high alert at all times.
"If someone wants to break in and if they have the tools, the time and the determination they will get in.
"All the business owner can do is slow them down as much as possible," he said.
He suggested installing motion sensors in the attics of retail units and installing concrete slabs in the roof area.