Jason ‘Jake’ Casey had been a top target for gardaí under Operation Thor and was suspected of being “highly active” in burglaries both here and in Northern Ireland.
Also known as ‘Jake the Snake’, he was linked to a cross-border burglary team and intelligence connected him to a wider network of 30 criminals across Munster and Leinster.
Only last month he was suspected of involvement in an aggravated burglary in the Midlands and managed to escape from Gardaí by jumping into a river.
The 29-year-old, with an address in Coonagh, Limerick, died suddenly over Christmas with his funeral held in the county last week.
Associates and relatives of Casey have posted a series of tributes in recent days describing him as the “king of the road” and “king of Munster gang”.
They also shared a number of press articles on different social media platforms of burglaries which appear to be attributed to Casey.
One post featured an article originally published by the Irish Independent on an organised crime gang using a high-powered car to carry out rural raids.
The mob used a 3.3 litre Kia Stinger and were involved in up to 10 burglaries of service stations over October 2020.
A relative of ‘Jake’ shared a screenshot of the article and wrote online: “First in Ireland to get a Kia Stinger. Best in the business at what he did.”
Another image of Casey has ‘King of Munster Gang’ written on it along with a picture of a Kia Stinger.
Footage of his funeral also showed mourners dressed in black caps, masks and gloves carrying Casey’s gold coffin to and from the church.
An image also shows a young child wearing a ski-mask standing front of his coffin at the altar.
The tributes echoed those for Tallaght man Dean Maguire (29) who died along with two other men when their car drove the wrong way down the N7 last year and collided with a truck.
His funeral made headlines when offerings praising Maguire for his burglary skills- including a screwdriver and torch- were brought to the altar as gifts.
Sources said that Casey was considered a key member of the criminal gang who was a driver on jobs and favoured using high-powered Audi cars when carrying out raids.
Garda intelligence linked him closely with another serial burglar from Tipperary and both men were suspected of crimes on both sides of the border.
Detectives believe Casey and his close associate were involved in one particular prolific crime wave in mid-2018 which saw a number of break-ins committed.
They suspect the men used an Audi vehicle stolen in the North before travelling in a convoy with another car to carry out burglaries.
Gardaí also believe the men were using the same car and were regularly altering the number plates to avoid detection.
A source said: “They would regularly park the cars offside on either side of the border, with one vehicle used by them previously seized from a halting site in Armagh.
“This pair were extremely active for crimes across Ireland, particularly in the Munster region and in Northern Ireland. They were part of a wider criminal grouping who have been a priority of gardaí for years as part of Operation Thor."
Casey was previously described in court as an “active participant” in a criminal gang when he was charged with a burglary in 2019.
He had previously received a suspended sentence in 2017 over a violent incident in Limerick during which sinister threats were made to a woman and her car damaged.
Casey had also been charged in 2020 with dangerous driving linked to a series of incidents in the city.