Gang armed with crowbars threaten Bank of Ireland staff during raid
More than €7,000 has been stolen from a bank by a three-man gang who terrorised staff and customers.
The thugs threatened staff at the Bank of Ireland in Rathdowney, Co Laois with weapons including a crowbar and a wheel brace.
Gardai said there is no description of the attackers, who are understood to have been masked and fled in the direction of Ballacolla, four kilometres from the M8 motorway.
A crowbar was seized at the scene by officers who had sealed off the area after the robbery at around 2.30pm on Friday afternoon.
"What happened in the bank was a very shocking experience for customers and staff," a source told the Herald.
"Gardai are determined to solve this crime and a major investigation is in place."
A spokesman for Bank of Ireland refused to comment on the raid.
"We do not comment on security matters," he said.
All banks around the country have significantly reduced the cash kept in branches in recent years.
The Bank of Ireland in Rathdowney was the target of one of Ireland's most notorious gangs in February 2004 when €10,500 was stolen in a raid.
There is nothing to indicate that last week's raid has anything to do with that mob.
Career criminal Alan Freeman (34), from Clondalkin, was one of three men who robbed the branch on that occasion.
His accomplices, who were brandishing firearms, threatened staff and demanded money while Freeman used a sledgehammer to break the security glass at the cash counter.
The trio made their escape in a 4x4 that was later found in a field just outside Rathdowney.
Around 45 minutes after the raid, a car carrying three men matching the robbers' descriptions was stopped and Freeman and his accomplices were arrested. Freeman admitted his role to gardai.