Dangerous criminal leading Dublin burglary gang carrying out 25 raids a week
A dangerous criminal is the leader of one of Dublin’s most prolific burglary gangs that gardai believe is committing up to 25 raids a week.
The criminal grouping has been a prime target of gardai under Operation Thor and is suspected of being involved in the theft of a PSNI officer’s handgun in the North, later used to threaten a teenage girl.
The gang's leader is a 31-year-old criminal from Dublin, who has been arrested on several occasions for burglary-related offences and for threatening gardai. He is currently before the courts on other matters.
Earlier this month, members of the gang were stopped following a chase with gardai. During a subsequent search, items that were stolen from several properties along border counties were recovered.
The operation in west Dublin helped gardai identify key members of the gang, who are mainly aged in their late teens and early 20s.
Gardai now believe the criminal leader is the group's driver, who "ferries" the younger thugs across the country to carry out robberies and aggravated raids.
The group includes young criminals from Dublin, as well as Wicklow, and operates from a halting site in south-east Dublin which has been raided on several occasions by detectives.
Two of them are members of the travelling community and are related to each other. One, who is aged just 16, was previously arrested for the knife-point robbery of a 94-year-old woman at her home in Dun Laoghaire.
Despite several members of the gang being either youths or aged in their late teens, they have amassed more than 100 previous convictions for burglary offences.
"They are targeting mainly homes in border counties in the Republic and in the North and are carrying out as many as 25 burglaries in one week," a source said.
"The gang are also the chief suspects for the theft of a handgun registered to a PSNI officer at his home. The fact that this group now have access to firearms is of huge concern," the source added.
During the robbery in Co Armagh, a woman was held at gunpoint in the Markethill area before the raiders stole her car.
Gardai are currently liaising with their PSNI colleagues to target the crime gang. The sheer volume of burglaries means that the group potentially carried out close to 1,300 burglaries across the country since the beginning of the year.
Gardai have also been on red alert as several notorious burglary suspects were temporarily released from prison for the Christmas period.
Sources previously revealed that officers in south Dublin fear at least half a dozen prolific burglars will be freed over Christmas.
However, a special operation carried out by Dublin Eastern garda division in Tallaght earlier this month, against a burglary gang helped stem the flow of criminals in the area.