A HIGH-POWERED BMW car was stolen at gunpoint from a businessman and his family.
Investigating gardai fear that the stolen five-series car will be used by a gang in serious crime.
A nationwide alert has been made and the description of the M5 model, which sells at up to €135,000 for new vehicles, has been circulated to all garda districts.
Three masked men armed with two handguns forced their way into the home of the businessman at Mount Venus estate in Rathfarnham, south county Dublin, around 3am yesterday.
The man and his wife were awoken by the sound of breaking glass and went to the front of the house to investigate.
They were confronted by the gunmen, who threatened to kidnap them if they did not hand over the keys to the BMW.
The middle-aged couple's two sons, aged six and eight, slept throughout the incident.
After taking the keys, the gang left in the BMW.
Gardai have said they are satisfied that the car, registration number 07 D 14682, was stolen to order.
They said criminals usually stole high-powered cars to sell overseas or for use as a getaway vehicle for serious crimes.
Officers said none of the family was injured in the incident but that the couple were traumatised at being held at gunpoint and threatened.
The thieves were described as speaking with Dublin accents.
Gardai fear the BMW could be used by one of the gangs of travelling criminals who have terrorised vulnerable rural victims in a spate of burglaries over the past 18 months.
The gangs operate from their bases in south and west Dublin and use the network of motorways to escape capture by the gardai after carrying out burglaries in the provinces.
A number of gangs were equipped with stolen Audi Q4s and BMWs as getaway vehicles and drove at speeds of up to 220kph to evade the gardai.
The crime gangs have been targeted mainly through Operation Fiachla, which has resulted in 6,972 arrests of suspects up to the end of last month, with criminal charges brought so far against 3,971 of them.