NewsCrime Desk

Brazen gang 'use drones' to scope garage before €70k theft of cars and equipment

John Kelly with the recovered BMW
John Kelly with the recovered BMW

A car dealer has claimed that thieves used a drone with an infrared camera to survey his premises before stealing up to €70k worth of cars and equipment.

John Kelly, owner of JK Autos in Portlaoise, Co Laois had two high-end cars and equipment worth €20k stolen from his business on September 28.

The two cars, a white BMW Sport and an Audi A5 Coupe, are worth almost €50,000 combined. The BMW has since been recovered in Portarlington after he launched a media campaign.

"A lad from Dublin rang me who has a garage and was looking on Facebook and saw the car on his way into work," Mr Kelly told

He says that the use of drones to carry out robberies is becoming common practice now, having spoken to friends who work as guards and detectives.

The Audi A5 which is still missing

"My wife heard a drone noise going over the house in the two nights previous to the robbery taking place. She is familiar with the sound as they use one in the school she works in," he said. 

It was the first time a robbery ever took place at JK Autos and Mr Kelly says the family are quite shaken.

Their home is right beside the business and he and his wife Sarah have two kids, a three-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy.

"My wife was obviously upset and the fact it is so close to home there are multiple scenarios that could have arisen. It has made us all very uneasy.

"We live in quite a rural area opposite a church. We have a Rottweiler on the premises and CCTV and always felt secure but these gangs are very brazen," he said.

The gang which carried out the raid disarmed the CCTV footage and alarms. They also bent the bolts of the gates at the front of the business so they could make way with the BMW and Audi.

Mr Kelly, who originally spoke to the Leinster Express about the ordeal, said he is extremely thankful that nobody was hurt and he had good insurance in place.

"Everything that the insurers were charging me for was for a reason and I was covered. Had I not been covered and I was to try and replace that €70,000, there would be seven people, including myself, out of a job. No question."

He took to Facebook to thank everyone for their support after recovering the BMW.

"The Power of Facebook and FRIENDS. A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to share our video. It's down to a Facebook tip off we have this car back. We still have no word on our Audi A5 or our equipment and tyres. But here's hoping."