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Smash and grab Four burglary gangs terrorising Irish towns as gardai fear spike in break-ins

Ruthless burglary gangs are top priorities for gardai - some have even 'recruited' children as young as seven, writes Robin Schiller

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Burglar (stock)

Burglar (stock)

Burglar (stock)

Gardaí are bracing for a spate of burglaries in the coming weeks, with crime gangs across the country targeting towns and cities over the festive period.

While break-ins have decreased during the current lockdown, it is feared the gangs whose activities have been hampered will return to carrying out raids as restrictions ease.

CROSS-BORDER MOB

A prolific cross-border gang have been a priority for gardaí over the past two years after being linked to a spate of robberies in the North.

The gang, led by two brothers from Rathfarnham, are considered one of the most active in the country, with associates scattered across Dublin, the Midlands and the south-east.

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Cross-border suspect

Cross-border suspect

Cross-border suspect

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Cross-border gang suspect

Cross-border gang suspect

Cross-border gang suspect

Three members of the group, including a then 17-year-old, are suspects in the attempted murder of a pensioner who suffered serious injuries trying to escape from raiders during a terrifying burglary in Tyrone.

Another key associate is a brother-in-law of the gang leaders, who is originally from Tallaght but has been living in Carlow in recent months.

The 28-year-old is also wanted by detectives attached to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) in relation to passport fraud and also by the PSNI for crimes in the North.

A 26-year-old close associate of this man is on the run in the UK and is wanted by gardaí for a spate of raids in the border region, in which a Volkswagen Passat was used.

Several gang associates are currently on bail for crimes committed on the both sides of the Border but are still suspected of continuing to carry out raids around the country.

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"This gang have been highly active in cross-border burglaries and specialise in using Audis stolen in the UK and brought over here," a source told the Herald.

One criminal linked to key gang members is Larry Connors (29), from Cherryfield, south Dublin, who was earlier this year jailed for eight years over a Cork crime spree.

Connors was one of three men who travelled from Dublin to Cork to raid a home and rob a safe containing cash and jewellery valued at around €30,000 in September of last year.

Also linked to the mob is a 26-year-old criminal currently living in Offaly who was previously arrested for shooting at gardaí during a chase.

THE 'COCK WALL' GANG

Gardaí fear a new generation of criminals linked to the notorious 'Cock Wall' outfit are behind some of the biggest burglaries and are more volatile than ever.

The gang, which has been a key target of the Criminal Assets Bureau, has more than 80 associates up and down the east coast.

Members have been linked to break-ins nationwide, travelling in groups of four or five to blitz rural towns before using the country's motorway network to make their getaway.

Detectives believe a group of thugs aged in their teens and early 20s are the predominant burglary team for the Cock Wall gang.

"The older generation seems to be taking a backward step in terms of active involvement in nationwide crimes," the source said.

"They are now the ones making the shopping list for their younger associates and sending them off to rob all around them.

"The young lads have been involved in break-ins since they were young children, so they aren't new to this by any means and they're becoming more lethal in their approach and attempts to evade gardaí."

The Herald previously revealed the gang were using a seven-year-old girl in their crimes, and gardaí fear she was not the only child they 'recruited'.

Several younger associates of the gang were recently arrested over a significant cash seizure believed to be the proceeds of burglaries, which cannot be detailed for legal reasons.

The older members of the gang include convicted killer Andy Wall (44), who has been a central figure for decades.

The Tallaght criminal previously tried to start a new life in America, but was deported in 2018 after being arrested for shoplifting and employing a juvenile in the commission of a crime in New Jersey.

CONNORS GANG

The Connors gang is one of the biggest burglary outfits in the country and has associates across Dublin, Wexford and Kildare.

Once led by 'Fat' Andy Connors, who was shot dead outside his Saggart home in 2014, the mob remains highly active.

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'Fat' Andy Connors

'Fat' Andy Connors

'Fat' Andy Connors

While being linked to several burglaries in Ireland, the gang has also been involved in crime sprees across the UK.

One member, Miley Connors, was recently arrested and jailed after fleeing from a prison in England.

Gardaí suspected he had returned to Ireland while on the run and was being investigated for burglaries here in the summer of last year before returning to the UK.

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Miley Connors

Miley Connors

Miley Connors

The prolific burglar, from Cloonmore Park, Tallaght, is now serving an eight-and-a-half year jail term for carrying out 18 burglaries across southern England.

Close associates of Connors have previously been targeted by CAB, while younger criminals from the Tallaght area who are linked to him will be among the main targets for gardaí over the coming weeks.

MANSFIELD GANG

Unlike other burglary groups, the Mansfield gang operates with only a small number of core individuals but is still extremely prolific.

Garda intelligence currently links four key associates to this mob, in which Richard Mansfield is a central figure.

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Richard Mansfield

Richard Mansfield

Richard Mansfield

The 26-year-old has burglary convictions in the UK and was jailed in Ireland after being arrested following an appeal on RTÉ's Crimecall.

Other associates of the mob are a 39-year-old living in Kildare who has previously been targeted by CAB after amassing considerable wealth from break-ins.

Two other men linked to the gang are aged in their 30s and live in the Tallaght and Sandyford areas.

Gardaí believe the Mansfield mob focus on high-end targets following weeks of surveillance and have recently been involved in trying to fence stolen jewellery in the Tallaght area.

"These aren't smash-and-grab lads, they're highly organised in what they target and try to avoid gardaí at all costs when being pursued, which is a particular concern," a source said.

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