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'Violent' gang arrested after a series of 'brutal' rural robberies


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Members of a violent gang suspected of being behind a series of rural robberies were arrested in dawn raids by armed gardaí in south Dublin yesterday.

Gardaí have established that the gang is linked to the robberies which included some "particularly brutal" aggravated burglaries on elderly people in recent months.

A total of four individuals remain in garda custody following the raids on addresses in Shankill, Tallaght and Rathfarnham in a planned operation against the mob who are suspects for up to 17 robberies in Co Roscommon and neighbouring counties.

In total, seven searches were carried out yesterday and the suspects are being held at three different southside garda stations.

Gardaí have been gathering CCTV and other forensic evidence including fingerprints as part of the investigation.

No property linked to the robberies was seized during the raids but gardaí believe they have enough evidence to charge some of those in custody in connection with the spate of burglaries.

"This was a major operation against a very serious organised crime grouping," a senior source said last night.

"Some of these burglaries were absolutely brutal in their nature."

It's understood that a number of those targeted by gardaí have links to slain crime lord 'Fat' Andy Connors - but none of those arrested is related to him.

The extended Connors Traveller gang, which has more than 200 members, was the chief target of Operation Fiacla and other large investigations, but his murder did not end his gang's nationwide crime spree.

Apart from terrorising rural communities, the gang targeted by gardaí yesterday is highly active in south Dublin.

The DMR East Garda Division - which includes affluent areas such as Dundrum and Blackrock - has the highest burglary rate in the country with a total of 1,800 in 2016.

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At least five burglaries are carried out in the area every day, but the number is still significantly lower than the 2,100 burglary-related offences that were carried out in 2015.

The large decrease is largely due to increased activity by local gardaí in the DMR East Division, while national units working under the auspice of Operation Thor have also helped curtail the activities of burglary gangs.

Despite having the highest rate of burglaries in the country, the garda division responsible for policing south Dublin has the lowest number of gardaí with just 648 officers covering the area.

The Dublin-based gangs in particular use the motorway network to travel the country carrying out burglaries. Many of these criminals are currently under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

It is understand that several of the criminals are Dublin-based but there are also serious organised burglary gangs based in Limerick, Galway, Wexford and Waterford.

Meanwhile, a series of talks, 'Thinking Ahead', will also begin next month aiming to offer safety and security advice from experienced gardaí and homecare specialists to homeowners.

Hosted by Castle Homecare, the event will take place in the Stillorgan Park Hotel from September 28 as part of Bank of Ireland's Positive Aging Week.

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