Gang padlocks Garda station to stop response to robbery
Gang leaves empty-handed after gardaí hurdle gates to stop theft at bookmakers
Gang smashed the windows of a car they believed was trying to block their getaway. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
Gardaí believe a four-man gang was behind the padlocking of a Garda station to prevent officers from responding to the attempted theft of Cheltenham takings from a bookies in Co Cork.
The four-man gang struck at the Paddy Power bookies on Main Street in Charleville at around 2am on Thursday - minutes after putting a chain and padlock on the gates of Charleville Garda station to prevent gardaí responding.
The alarm at the bookies went off, but when gardaí discovered the station gates were locked, and they were unable to get the patrol car out.
However, two officers vaulted the gates and ran the 500 metres to the bookies shop, and the gang to fled empty-handed.
Gardaí examined CCTV footage from around Charleville and established the gang drove into the town in a large black saloon-type car around 1.45am before going to the Garda station to lock the gates and driving up to the bookies shop.
They reversed the car up to the door of the bookies and the driver remained in the car as three men - armed with a sledge hammer, crow bar and slash hook - got out.
One man used the sledge hammer to break down the door and gain entry.
The gang, who were all wearing balaclavas and gloves, pulled the burglar alarm and a fire alarm off the wall inside the bookies but were unable to either open the safe or remove it from the shop, and they fled when they spotted gardaí.
Two members of the public who had pulled up in a car to go to a local ATM had their windows smashed by one of the gang. Gardaí believe the gang member may have believed this car was trying to block their getaway.
The gang drove off in the direction of Mallow, but gardaí believe that they turned off the N20 shortly after leaving Charleville and drove via backroads to Askeaton in Co Limerick where they broke into a pub but again left empty-handed.
The gang, who are using a car with the rear lights blacked out to make pursuit by gardaí more difficult, are also believed to be responsible for another night-time break-in at a bookie in Limerick city where they again left empty-handed.
Gardaí are still gathering CCTV footage from Charleville and surrounding areas.
Garda technical experts have examined the bookies as well as of the chain and padlock that the gang used to lock the gates to the Garda station.