Teen gang steals cars by 'fishing' for keys through letterboxes
A gang made up mainly of teenagers is suspected of stealing around 30 high-end cars in the space of a fortnight in affluent suburbs on Dublin's northside.
The crew has been targeting properties and cars in Clontarf, Malahide, Howth, Sutton and Raheny in a crime wave that ended only in recent days.
Gardaí have established that the thugs have been "fishing" car keys through letterboxes of upmarket homes before driving off in expensive stolen vehicles including Audis, BMWs and Mercedes.
"These cars have then been used in a spate of burglaries in the same locality in which large amounts of mostly jewellery and cash have been stolen," a senior source said. "The house burglaries are not aggravated in nature. In fact, they can be best described as opportunistic break-ins."
The Irish Independent has learned that once the stolen cars are used in the burglaries, they are driven off and parked up at apartment complexes in the city's northside.
Gardaí have recovered a number of the high-end cars in the Belmayne area of Balgriffin, as well as at other apartment complexes nearby, normally within days of the vehicles being stolen.
"While around 30 vehicles have been stolen in the space of a fortnight, gardaí have recovered up to 20 of these parked up and generally intact," the source added.
"They can be returned to their owners after being forensically examined.
"However, some of the cars have been destroyed in joyriding incidents."
Garda management was so concerned about the situation that a bulletin was issued identifying the alleged gang members to officers in Dublin stations. It can be revealed that the gang is made up of around eight members aged between 16 and 22 who live in the Edenmore and wider Coolock area.
"These are very young up-and-coming criminals who can be best described as disorganised yobs," the source said.
"They have no established links to the wider organised crime gangs who are involved in the stolen car industry in Ireland - these are gangs that steal cars to order so that they can be dismantled in chop shops or sold on the internet.
"In the absence of having connections to these organised groupings, the youths involved in this have no real means of getting rid of the cars.
"In fact, gardaí have received reports that one of the teenagers was recently attempting to sell one of the stolen cars that is worth €20,000 for less than €400."
There have been no arrests so far in the investigation.