A father has spoken of his heartbreak after a gang of thugs stole his son's beloved car, demanded a ransom and then burned the vehicle in front of them.
Anthony said the Toyota Starlet was stolen from the Crescent Shopping Centre in Limerick City on Saturday.
He told RTÉ Liveline that his 18-year-old son posted a message on Facebook a short time later pleading for help locating the vehicle and they went searching for it across the city.
"It's not just a car," he told Joe Duffy. "He's [his son] is an 18-year-old apprentice and he's had the car since he was 15 years of age. He was constantly at it, it was his life and soul."
While they were searching for the vehicle they received a phonecall from someone who had spotted the message on Facebook. The man claimed he knew the whereabouts of the vehicle.
"They asked if we would be interested in buying it back," said Anthony.
The caller asked for €1,000 but Anthony bargained him down to €750.
"They wanted me to meet them down an alleyway in South Hill with €750 on me and I started laughing at them.
"It went downhill then and they were ringing me saying they were going to take the car apart and take the wheels off it."
Anthony, who asked that his surname not be used, said that he was speaking to two men who he described as "scumbags".
On Sunday the father was called by a "contact" who told him that the car may be in a specific place in South Hill. Hoping for a breakthrough the father and son travelled to the area where they could hear the car's engine being revved.
"We jumped the fence and we went in to see if we could see the car inside. They were waving out at us. They got the car, they turned it upside down. They threw a gallon of petrol up on it and set it alight. They were looking at us roaring and laughing.
"We could have been guards, they didn't care. They burned the car in front of us, 10 or 12 of them."
Anthony explains that the family were devastated by the blow and he recounted what his son wrote on Facebook after witnessing the incident.
"My son wrote: 'Today was the hardest day, I lost my baby today and I don't know what I'm going to do about it'."
Anthony said he made contact with the radio station to warn others.
"These people still exist, they are not people you can talk with or reason with. They are pure scum."