Lithuanian gang's 'fly and steal' racket smashed by gardai
GARDAI have smashed a major "fly-and-steal" racket masterminded by a Lithuanian gang in Ireland.
According to senior gardai, the gang's "Mr Big" recruited Lithuanians in his own country and then flew them to Ireland to carry out raids on jewellers and other premises.
Inspector Fergus Treanor said: "We have established that this is a very serious racket with certain individuals being flown into the country and provided with transport and accommodation, as well as mobile phones."
He said the gang members arrived through Dublin Airport and left the island from Belfast International.
Insp Treanor added: "We have now established that these people, brought into the country, were being shown where to rob, where to hide the stolen property and also provided with accommodation and transport before being driven back to the airport and out of the country."
According to Insp Treanor, gardai checked travel records at airports in Dublin and Belfast, which confirmed the flights made by some of those involved in the racket.
Details of the "fly-and-steal" racket were revealed during a garda objection to an application for the release on bail of a Lithuanian man charged with a €100,000 jewellery robbery.
The court was told the accused admitted being involved in the raid and had provided the information in relation to other raiders flying in and out of the country.
Insp Treanor said the gang attacked the jeweller and smashed display cases in the premises . They also used pepper spray on the proprietor to enable them make their getaway and immobilised a CCTV system in the premises by taking a computer away with them.
He described the accused as "one of the organisers" involved with the fly-in of raiders.
The accused was also involved in the supply of transport for the raiders, according to the garda officer.
Judge Sean MacBride refused an application by defence lawyer Gerry Jones for the release on bail for the Lithuanian, on the grounds that the he might not appear for trial. He was remanded in custody to a further sitting on June 6 next.