Gardai are targeting former Dublin criminals in a series of raids nationwide.
Detectives in Longford busted a Dublin criminal who is under such pressure for cash that he devised a unique way to steal money from slot machines across the country.
The thug, who has links to the 'Fat' Freddie Thompson mob, is under death threat after he lost a large amount of drugs so he has turned to working with Romanian criminals in a reckless cash drive.
But gardai based in Co Longford arrested the suspect who is now based in Bettystown, Co Meath, when he tried to escape with around €100 from a poker machine in a chipper in Edgeworthstown.
Sources say that he used a special key and copper wire to get the cash from the machine.
However, he was snared by local officers working as part of the gardai's special Operation Edict.
When officers arrested the criminal, aged in his mid-20s, and his Romanian associate, they discovered that there were outstanding bench warrants for his arrest.
He was later given a 22- month suspended sentence and sources say that officers will closely monitor his activities as his crew are suspected of a spate of ATM distraction thefts nationwide.
A senior source said: "This hood is all mouth and thinks he is a big player. But he got a shock when he started doing crimes in Co Longford - he had no idea that a special operation had been set up to target criminals just like him."
Operation Edict was set up to combat crime in feud hotspot Edgeworthstown, and it is under the control of Supt Tom Murphy and officers based at Granard garda station.
Concerns included the level of burglaries in the area, robberies and drug-dealing in the town. Feuding Traveller families and squabbling drug gangs had also left their mark with petrol bomb attacks on cars and houses, and pipe bombs and shots being fired at houses.
The operation has been a major success, with more than a dozen arrests so far for crimes such as theft and serious assaults.
During two-day search operations carried out last week, drugs, including cocaine and cannabis, were found as were shotgun cartridges and weapons.
Perhaps the most significant discovery made by the officers was a viable pipe bomb discovered in a house raid.
A senior source said: "Operation Edict was launched two weeks ago. A target list of up to two dozen career criminals was produced.
"Co Longford will not be a soft spot for Dublin-based or Traveller criminals."