Some of the most prolific burglary gangs come from within the traveller community who use their lifestyle to cover their activities. But other criminals have also been getting in on the act using cash from robberies to fund drugs and cigarette smuggling rackets.
Operation Fiacla by the Gardaí succeeded in putting some of the best-known suspects behind bars, but the crime wave has continued. Both urban and rural are being targeted with farms also being singled out by well-organised crime gangs stealing machinery and metal.
The distance covered by the organised gangs and their expertise means that huge garda resources have to be deployed to catch them in action.
Organisers were stunned when 2,000 people showed up at a public meeting in Thurles this week to vent their anger at the growing epidemic of burglaries and break-ins in country areas.
“We were hoping for maybe 900 people but 2,000 showed up,” said farmer Robert O’Shea, who was raided twice in one week last year losing €15,000 of tools he had built up over decades.
“Between 60 and 70 per cent of those who attended were victims of crime and when we asked in a straw poll if they knew anyone who had been robbed it was 100 per cent.
“We have had enough. People are living in fear and isolation. It is time the laws were changed on trespass and bail which allow these criminals to roam the countryside.”
He said the new organisation, Save Our Community, would now be demanding talks with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
“People power is the only thing that that will make the government sit up and take notice. Laws have to be changed,” said Mr O’Shea
The Subaru Gang
This loose of alliance of gangsters from among the traveller community has been one of the country’s most prolific burglary outfits in the country for decades. A leading member Andy ‘Cock’ Wall was released from jail last year after serving time for a Longford break-in.
He was caught red-handed with jewellery taken from a private house during a night-time raid. The have been responsible for targeting the valuables held by homeowners in expertly executed raids in almost every single county in Ireland.
Other members were caught after raid in Co Kerry following a surveillance operation that started in Dublin. The gang got it’s nickname from their preference for using stolen high-powered cars to make their getaway.
The Sulky Bandits
Based in Limerick city and surrounding towns members of this group from the travelling community have connections across Limerick, Tipperary, Kerry and Cork.
Individuals are suspected to use their sulky racing activities as cover for their criminal operation spotting potential targets in remote rural locations.
An unauthorised stable in east Limerick was burned down by vigilantes who blamed its presence for sparking a crime wave in the area. Members of the gang are now use violence and pose a danger to innocent road-users with high-risk driving to escape the attention of the gardaí.
The thieves who carry out raids have access to well-connected scrap metal dealers and criminals who can off-load other goods for cash. They carry out raids day or night and are not intimidated by the presence of Gardaí.
The Romanian Gang
A gang of violent criminals from Romania, based in Ireland targets gold and jewellery in burglaries. They are suspected to be behind dozens of thefts all over the country and regularly fly in criminals from outside the jurisdiction to carry out jobs.
They also operated outside of Ireland and much of their ill-gotten gains are quickly shipped out of the country. Electronic goods and smart phones have netted the gang bosses hundreds of thousands of euro.
This week armed gardaí arrested five suspects in north Dublin seizing a number of mobile phones and laptops. They are thought to have been behind one robbery in which €200,000 worth of jewellery was snatched from a shop in Co Kildare.
Many of the individual criminals operate under strict hierarchy with bulk of the profits gong to bosses based outside Ireland.
Violent thug Patrick Rubber Og O’Reilly (below) was released last year after serving his time for his part in violent feud attack. While he was inside his son ‘Rubber Beag’ was one of the targets of Operation Fiacla launched in 2012 which saw 300 people charged with offences.
Other members of the clan are professional criminals involved in break-ins and distraction thefts.
A number of relatives have previously been investigated by the Criminal Assets Bureau attempting to launder their cash through car deals. Sunday World sources claim Rubber Og Reilly’s arrival in areas such as Kildare, south Armagh and Donegal since his release has coincided with a spate of burglaries.
A number of women are also active as key criminal members of the gang.
The Pale Connors Gang
Slain gang boss Fat Andy Connors had dozens of convictions for burglary and continued carrying out break-ins himself despite his millions. There are more than a dozen members of this outfit have who have continued carrying out break-ins all over Dublin and Leinster despite his murder.
Gang members are experts at what they do, jamming alarm systems or simply ignoring them as they quickly search a house and escape. They have also been suspected of using children as young as 11 to carry out burglaries.
They also like to target elderly or vulnerable people for raids knowing they won’t face any resistance.
The M1 Gang
This collective of professional thieves operate around the north east and the Irish midlands carrying out break-ins, distraction thefts and shop-lifting. Members of this gang would have close connections to the men jailed last week for the horrifying raid on the Corcoran family.
Businessman Mary Corcoran was threatened with extreme violence in front of his traumatised wife Emma and their young kids. Another member of the gang, Matthew Fahy, hit the headlines when he was blasted in the arm by a farmer when he tried to raid the property.
Fahy, who is serving time in jail, has been credited with being among the first to start using a fishing rod to steal car-keys through letter boxes.