MEMBERS of the country's most notorious burglary gang – who use high-powered stolen cars – got more than they bargained for when they targeted an industrial unit which was full of burly Eastern European men.
The family-based gang from Tallaght have been linked to more than 300 burglaries this year but were left licking their wounds after they broke into the premises in Edgesworthtown in Co Longford last week.
A source explained: "The occupants of the premises defended themselves and gave these three fellas a severe beating when they attempted to break into the property with a crowbar – they were forced to flee back to Dublin at high speed with the help of some of their associates.
"It goes without saying that gardai have not received a complaint from the burglars – they were just happy to get out of Co Longford in one piece it seems."
In a strange twist, it has emerged that a vehicle used by the gang was formerly owned by a mob boss who was involved in a turf war with slain Real IRA terror chief Alan Ryan. Gardai suspect that it was sold by him to the Traveller gang which is predominately made up of two notorious families.
This Ford Fiesta was abandoned by the gang in Edgesworthtown, leading local gardai to discover a major jewellery haul which had been stolen from a jewellers in Co Carlow the previous night.
The crime gang have been using stolen Audis and BMWs for burglaries and have led gardai on multiple high-speed chases often driving extremely aggressively at officers who have less powerful cars than them.
In one terrifying incident which was ironically started near Edgesworthtown last May, a teenager from Tallaght, Dublin, drove at speeds of 220kph in an Audi A4 and smashed through toll barriers before a stinger device eventually halted his driving spree.
This is one of just dozens of chases that have happened between the gang and gardai since the start of the year including one which ended last week in Naas, Co Kildare, after the gang were involved in an earlier burglary spree in Co Wexford.
The ringleaders of the gang are members of two notorious Traveller families from Tallaght who have been involved in organised crime for three decades.
Senior sources say that the gang has a core membership of up to 15 criminals – who are both male and female – and have been using Ireland's advanced motorway system as well as high-powered cars to carry out their crimewave.
Gardai have responded with a number of targeted operations including deploying armed Regional Response Units in certain areas as well as the Garda helicopter and spy technology involving registration-plate recognition software.
But the burglary blitz has been continuing despite the fact that gardai have arrested many of the 'main players' in the gang.
A senior source said: "This gang has a very fluid structure that makes it extremely difficult for gardai – they are constantly changing the cars that they are using and changing number plates on them with false plates.
"It has been documented that the gang are committing up to 12 burglaries in the space of one trip out of the capital where they have hit houses in up to three counties in that go."