Saturday 22 September 2018

Revealed: Women and young teens centrally involved with burglary gangs targeting vulnerable homeowners in rural Ireland

‘They target the elderly, because they are cowards. They have become prominent over the last 18 months and have caused a major concern for gardaí’

The crime groups are believed to have targeted vulnerable bachelor Joseph Waters in Kildangan, Co Offaly. (Pictured: Gardai at the home of Mr Waters)
The crime groups are believed to have targeted vulnerable bachelor Joseph Waters in Kildangan, Co Offaly. (Pictured: Gardai at the home of Mr Waters)

Women and young teenagers are centrally involved with burglary gangs targeting vulnerable and elderly homeowners in rural Ireland.

The crime groupings, predominately based in Dublin, the Midlands and Munster, have caused havoc across the country.

One particular gang has a large number of women working for them, while another south Dublin outfit is largely made up of teenagers, some as young as 14.

One faction that gardaí have become extremely concerned about is a dangerous “unholy alliance” between two burglary gangs who have dozens of male and female members across the country.

Senior sources say that the gang are responsible for a “reign of terror” across the country, which included 26 burglaries in the space of one night.

“Make no mistake, women play a huge role in these gangs,” a senior source said. “They target the elderly, because they are cowards. They have become very prominent over the last 18 months and have caused a major concern for gardaí.”

The crime groups that have joined together are led by a notoriously violent Limerick criminal and a vicious serial burglar in his early 20s who is currently based in Portarlington, Co Laois.

The mob are the chief suspects for the high-profile aggravated robbery on farmer Richard McKelvey (54), who was dragged from his bed and beaten by a gang of four men at his home in Glassderry Beg, Brosna, near Birr, Co Offaly. Mr McKelvey, a bachelor farmer who lived alone with his dog, fell victim to criminals over two months ago when all of his elderly mother’s jewellery was stolen from the same house.

They are also suspects in the terrifying burglary on Joseph Waters (77), a visually impaired bachelor who lives on his own. Three masked men broke into the farmer’s home in the Kildangan area of Durrow, Co Offaly, just before Christmas.

He was struck a number of times on the body, suffering a particularly severe “belt” to his head.

The brutal gang are also suspected of being behind a terrifying incident in which a shotgun was fired at a detective during a pursuit in Co Kildare last month.

In response to the burglary crisis, gardaí in the Midlands have set up a special anti-burglary task force, which is based in the Offaly/Laois Garda division and comprises a sergeant and eight gardaí.

The unit has access to up to five Garda cars and is involved in “pre-emptive strikes” against the gangs.

Another prime target for gardaí, under Operation Thor, is a prominent Traveller gang in south Dublin who are suspects in a number of shocking burglaries on elderly people. This organised criminal gang are primarily based in a halting site in the Dún Laoghaire area.

The gang are led by a criminal in his 30s from the Ballybrack area, and are suspected of committing up to 25 burglaries a week.

Three of the gang have also been arrested for the shocking aggravated burglary at the home of 94-year-old Jimmy Campion, in Co Tipperary, earlier this year. 

One of the gang members, who is aged just 16, was previously arrested for the knife-point robbery of a 94-year-old woman at her home in Dún Laoghaire. The raiders have amassed more than 100 previous convictions for burglary offences between them.

While gardaí with limited resources attempt to tackle the scourge as best they can, there has also been some very significant court rulings this year in relation to organised criminals involved in horrific aggravated burglaries.

One of the most important of these occurred at Limerick Circuit Court in November when prolific thugs Patrick Roche (53), from Kilcronan, Clondalkin, Dublin, along with his son, Philip Roche (24), were jailed for 17 years and 15 years respectively. Patrick Roche’s son-in-law Alan Freeman (37), from Pearse Park, Tipperary Park, was jailed for 14 years.

They were convicted of a violent robbery on the Garvey family, in which Gerard Garvey and his two teenage children were assaulted and threatened at gunpoint in April 2012. The sentences were also imposed for a violent robbery on Willie Creed and his two elderly sisters, Nora and Chrissy, who are all aged in their 70s, at their home at Ballyluddy, Pallasgreen, Limerick, in May 2012.

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