Three suspects arrested after big increase in thefts of high-powered tools from tradespeople’s vans in recent weeks
Three suspected gang members were arrested in a planned operation by gardaí in north Dublin on Monday night, after a big increase in thefts of high-powered tools from tradespeople’s vans in recent weeks.
It came after around €10,000 worth of tools was stolen from a vehicle parked in a hotel car park in Clondalkin on Monday night, while just hours earlier over €5.000 worth of building equipment was taken from a parked vehicle at a hotel in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
The vans were parked there by tradesmen who were staying overnight in the hotels after working in the local area.
Although there have been no arrests yet in relation to Monday’s thefts, it is understood that a prolific locally based Blanchardstown gang are the suspects for both crimes and a spate of other burglaries and thefts in recent weeks.
he gang is also believed to have been involved in a number of shoplifting incidents in supermarkets
A white car, believed to have been used by the gang during the thefts, was discovered abandoned in the Clonsilla area of west Dublin late on Monday night.
Meanwhile, gardaí in north Dublin on the same night targeted a separate gang, involved in a similar crime spree across parts of Dublin, Lucan and Meath, making three arrests.
The gang, which is understood to have links to notorious Raheny-based career criminal Douglas Purcell (40), who has multiple previous convictions, including for theft, were using a grey Nissan Qashqai, with cloned registration plates, when targeting areas in recent weeks.
The gang is also believed to have been involved in a number of shoplifting incidents in supermarkets, where a female gang member stole items using a shopping trolley and then fled the store.
Officers based in Swords garda station received information on Monday night that the suspect Nissan vehicle was at a hotel in the area after it was earlier spotted acting suspiciously at a premises in Mulhuddart, west Dublin.
Gardaí pounced and three men were arrested at the scene and are currently being detained at various north Dublin garda stations.
The arrested men are suspected of being members of an intergenerational crime gang, primarily based in north Dublin, but one of the suspects has an address in Co Kerry.
One of the men, intercepted in Swords by gardaí, is a well-known 26-year-old criminal from the Darndale area, while another is based in the Raheny area.
Sources say the gang has been thrown into disarray following the arrests.
“What these gangs have been doing is targeting tradesmen who have been storing tools in their vehicles, which are normally vans, which are then identified by the criminals when they are parked in hotel car parks but not always exclusively at these locations,” a senior source said.
“There is an international aspect to this type of crime as it is suspected that most of the tools that are stolen are sent out of the country in containers for sale in the UK or mainland Europe
“It is an issue that has been increasing in recent times especially with the increase in construction activity across the country,” the source added.
Last November, gardaí in Limerick appealed for tradesmen to be vigilant with their tools following a number of thefts, while officers in Kilkenny issued a similar warning last month.
“There is an international aspect to this type of crime as it is suspected that most of the tools that are stolen are sent out of the country in containers for sale in the UK or mainland Europe. It is very lucrative,” the source added.
“High-powered tools, saws, drills, carpentry tools and all kinds of specialist equipment are all very popular with the organised gangs. It leaves the victims hugely out of pocket and indeed employed,” the source added.
In previous crime security advice, gardaí said that serious consideration should be given to fitting a secure locked area/cage in the rear of a van for valuable tools and in addition, an alarm should be installed and advertised with a sticker.
They also said any overnight parking should be secure, for example parking a van with the rear/side door up against a wall in a well-lit area.