A PREGNANT mother of one yesterday foiled an attempted tiger kidnapping by setting off a panic alarm.
Sharon Lambe managed to contact the gardai while four armed and masked men attempted to take her husband Martin hostage.
At around 5am yesterday, the men confronted Mr Lambe, who works for the security company G4S Cash Solutions, as he was going to work from his house in Cluain Ard, Kilmeade, near Athy in Co Kildare.
It is the third such raid in the county in as many weeks and the fourth across the country in a month.
After Mr Lambe called out a number of times, his wife, realising what was happening, dialled 999 and hit a panic button before the men could get to her.
The men then went into the bedroom and took the rest of the family, including their two-year-old son, and placed blankets over their heads.
It is understood that they brought the couple, who are in their 30s, and their son to some nearby bushes, before moving them to the back of a van that was parked outside.
There, they struggled to handcuff Mr Lambe, before gardai arrived a short time later and the men fled on foot.
The garda helicopter scanned the area but the men managed to escape empty-handed. The van used by the gang, a white Hiace, was left at the scene.
Gardai cordoned off the house and were yesterday conducting technical examinations.
The distressed family stayed with a next-door neighbour before leaving at around lunchtime yesterday.
"They're okay, but they don't want to say anything," a woman at the neighbour's house said.
Locals in the newly built estate said they were shocked by the attack and said the family were "lovely people".
"Sharon is five months' pregnant, so I can only imagine how traumatising it was," local woman Anette O'Connor said.
A statement by G4S Cash Solutions said the company was "thankful" that their employee was not harmed.
"All security systems and procedures worked effectively," the statement added.
Gardai believe the men may have been picked up in another car before making their escape. Anybody who was in the area yesterday morning or saw anything unusual in previous days has been asked to come forward with any information they have.
Gardai are also looking for anyone who was travelling on the nearby N78 between Kilcullen and Athy yesterday morning to contact Kildare Garda Station on 045 527730.
General Post Office senior executive Liam O'Sullivan and his wife Mary were taken prisoner from their home at Fennore at the start of this month.
The brother-in-law of Fianna Fail TD Sean O'Fearghail escaped unharmed and the men got away empty-handed.
On Good Friday there was another attempted tiger kidnapping in Prosperous, Kildare.
A 50-year-old postmistress, her mother and sister were taken hostage by four masked thugs wielding hammers. The men fled after failing to gain access to the post office.
In the West, a garda was beaten with shovels and bars after he confronted four masked men at a post office in Cloonfad on the Mayo-Roscommon border earlier this month.