Two gardaí were hospitalised after a patrol vehicle was destroyed when it was rammed by a ruthless criminal gang using a stolen car they had taken in an earlier burglary.
The shocking incident happened as senior gardaí become increasingly concerned over organised gangs from the capital travelling to north Kildare to carry out burglaries in recent weeks.
"It is becoming a massive problem - houses are being broken into in areas such as Celbridge, Maynooth and Leixlip by gangs travelling from Dublin," a senior source said.
"A proactive policing plan has been put in place to target these gangs who are travelling to Co Kildare in stolen cars."
In the latest incident in the early hours of Tuesday, two gardaí in a brand new Hyundai Tucson 4x4 responded to reports of a vehicle acting suspiciously on a motorway slip road in the Celbridge area.
When they tried to confront the occupants of the vehicle the car reversed into the garda 4x4 at "huge speed" before it fled the scene.
Investigations quickly found out that it had been stolen earlier on Tuesday morning in Maynooth and the badly damaged car was later found by gardaí in Celbridge.
However, the criminals managed to flee the scene on foot before being picked up in another stolen car by other gang members and the suspects remained at large last night.
"The two gardaí who were in the rammed patrol vehicle were brought to hospital where they were treated for soft tissue injuries, but they have since been discharged and will be okay, thankfully," a source told the Herald last night.
"It could have been much worse and this shows the complete recklessness of criminals engaged in this type of activity in north Kildare. The vehicle is completely written-off."
It remained unclear last night if the stolen car that rammed the garda car was one of two cars that were stolen from the same property in Maynooth on Tuesday morning.
The Rockfield Park burglary and "the unauthorised taking of vehicles" were reported to gardaí at 6am on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, at 3.30am, the occupiers of a household at Brookfield Avenue, Maynooth, awoke to find two thieves in their bedroom.
Gardaí said the men fled the scene through a rear door in the direction of the M4. It is also unclear if this crime is linked to the criminals who rammed the garda vehicle in Celbridge.
These suspects also remain at large as officers in Maynooth and Celbridge trawled through CCTV last night in a bid to identify the thieves.
"Gangs from both the northside and southside of Dublin are coming to north Kildare to rob cars and to kick in the doors of homes in late-night burglaries," a senior source pointed out.
"These are organised gangs who have identified targets in the locality and their activities are a cause of serious concern, which means they are also being monitored by specialist nationalist units."
A major recent arrest operation by Leixlip gardaí targeting criminals who allegedly stole cars from Maynooth cannot be outlined here for legal reasons.
There had been a big decrease in burglaries and the stealing of cars nationwide during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but figures have increased in recent weeks.
"Kildare is a county which is currently in temporary lockdown, but that is not stopping these criminal gangs coming into the county, and causing mayhem," the source added.
"Gangs from Tallaght, Finglas, Clondalkin and Blanchardstown have all been identified and gardaí are investigating if they have been given information by local criminals," the source added.
Earlier this month it emerged that there had been a major spike in break-ins in Kildare, with 16 incidents in a week.