BANDIT CAMERA: Eastern European gang target Irish TV crews
AN Eastern European organised crime gang have been targeting television camera crews by following them and stealing hundreds of thousands of euro worth of equipment.
Security sources said there have been around 10 incidents involving the theft of camera equipment belonging to broadcasters, including RTE.
A source said: “There have been several incidents where camera crews have been targeted. It is believed they were placed under surveillance and followed, before vehicles were targeted when they were parked up at locations.”
State broadcaster RTE has been hit on three occasions in the camera theft racket orchestrated by a gang dubbed ‘the Camera Crew’.
Gardai believe the cameras and other equipment are then taken abroad where they are resold.
“They wouldn’t be easy to shift in Ireland so the gang would sell them in Eastern Europe,” said a source. “Some TV cameras can cost €25,000, so even selling at a reduced price would net a large profit.”
Independent production companies were also targeted by the gang on a number of occasions, including one firm which had been filming at Dublin Airport earlier this year.
New broadcaster UTV Ireland has also been targeted in the raids, as have freelance camera crews. The raids have happened in various locations around Dublin.
“This is very much a targeted operation. They see camera crews as easy pickings and know the rewards will be lucrative,” our source said.
Gardai have arrested two people in relation to the thefts, but the gang are believed to be still operational.
They believe the gang responsible previously targeted press photographers in a similar spate of robberies three years ago.
That gang escaped with more than €200,000 worth of gear in just seven months.
Gardai believed that most, if not all, of those eight incidents were carried out by the same gang.
In one incident more than €100,000 of gear was taken, while €40,000 was taken in another.
In two of the incidents witnesses spotted four men described as burly Eastern Europeans escaping the scene in a car.
The gang usually broke into cars and took the equipment while photographers were yards away.
In another case the gang actually attacked the photographer.
Gardai also believe the gang had the photographers under surveillance and waited until they knew there was a significant amount of gear in the car before striking.
As well as expensive cameras, photographers usually have lenses and laptops which make them vulnerable targets.