Garda's leg broken after car rammed by stolen 4x4
Three members of a gang that is suspected of more than 100 burglaries have been arrested following a ramming incident in which a garda's leg was broken.
The incident happened shortly after midnight yesterday when the criminals ploughed a stolen 4x4 vehicle into an unmarked garda car.
The garda car has been written off following the ramming and a garda armed-response vehicle was also badly damaged in the incident.
The officer who suffered the broken leg was on foot when he was hit by the 4x4. However, it is understood that he continued to work even after suffering such a severe injury.
Three men, aged 36, 38 and 39, were in garda custody last night. They are two brothers and a cousin who are suspected of being key members of the burglary gang that is based in the Mountrath area of Laois.
The ramming incident happened at Cloncourse, Co Laois, and followed a detailed surveillance investigation led by gardaí from the Laois/Offaly division.
Sources have revealed that officers were watching as the criminals went to retrieve a stolen vehicle.
It had been hidden in a bog in the locality after being stolen in the Nenagh area of Co Tipperary last week.
The vehicle then left the bog and failed to stop at a road checkpoint manned by armed regional-support officers and other gardaí.
As well as injuring the officer, who is based in Laois, the 4x4 crashed into the two other vehicles before the occupants of the vehicle fled on foot into a nearby field.
"Gardaí searched the area with the assistance of the Garda Air Support Unit and arrested the three men a short time later," a garda spokesman revealed.
The suspects were taken to Portlaoise and Tullamore garda stations.
"Four gardaí received non-life-threatening injuries during the incident and attended Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise," the spokesman added.
One male officer was treated for back injuries.
The gang who were targeted in the operation are suspected of a rural burglary crimewave across the midlands and south-east.
They are believed to have been targeting farms, farm-supply and co-op shops, as well as veterinary practices in at least six counties over the course of recent months.
Gardaí believe that they are behind more than 100 burglaries since the start of the year.
"These are very significant arrests and more operations like this are planned in the coming weeks," a senior source said last night.
Gardaí said that a number of vehicles and trailers, as well as farm equipment, were recovered during ongoing searches yesterday.
"The modus operandi of this gang has been to steal a 4x4 vehicle and then use it to target farms and rural businesses, sometimes hitting more than three a night," the senior source said.