Burglars can have your car shipped out of the country in less than a day
Gardaí have recovered €1m worth of vehicles stolen by organised crime gangs in burglaries from homes around the country.
Most of the burglaries involved 'fishing' the vehicle keys through the letterbox using magnetic poles.
The seizures have led officers to issue renewed warnings to householders not to leave their keys on a hall table or hanging from hooks within reach of their front doors.
Gardaí have recovered 91 vehicles taken in burglaries and destined for sale here or overseas since the start of the year.
The seizures are part of Operation Waste, which was launched by Insp Michael O'Connor and a small team of officers from the Garda's Dublin Metropolitan Region traffic department, based at Dublin Castle.
It was set up in September last year and initially aimed at monitoring the export of vehicles from the State to destinations such as the UK, Africa, Lithuania and Poland.
The gardaí focused on Dublin Port and targeted the arrival of uninsured and dangerously loaded vehicles. This resulted in the detention of more than 60 uninsured or unroadworthy cars and heavy goods vehicles and several drivers were convicted and disqualified.
But during their inquiries, the Garda team discovered that the port was being used by criminals to export vehicles stolen by burglary gangs who had retrieved the keys from the owners' homes.
They have identified four crime gangs heavily involved in the racket, which is reckoned to be netting thousands of euro per week for the organisers.
Officers said the gangs contained a mixture of Irish thieves, who were responsible for the burglaries, and eastern Europeans, who looked after the export of the stolen vehicles through a number of ports.
One officer told the Irish Independent: "These are highly organised criminals. They can fish out the keys through the letterbox of your home late at night and drive off in the vehicle, which can be booked onto a ferry at Rosslare and on its way out of the country before you wake up in the morning."
Some of the vehicles are offered for sale on a well known website for a price well under the market value and the unsuspecting buyer is given false documentation.
Vehicles recovered included new Range Rovers, Mercedes E-class, BMW 3/5 series, Audi A4 and A6 models, as well as Nissan Qashqais, Volkswagen Golfs and other family cars. Motorcycles and commercial models have also been found.
Cloned vehicles including an Audi Q7 and a Toyota Avensis D-Cat were also recovered before they were exported to Africa.