Gardaí have issued a warning to the public to be vigilant after a spate of burglaries by travelling criminals who have stolen tens of thousands of euro in cash and jewellery in the past month.
Supt Mick Comyns of Mayfield Garda station in Cork said the gang was using high-powered cars to drive from the greater Dublin area and target homes in Cork when the homeowners are out.
"Last Friday, for example, they did six break-ins here – three in Little Island, one in Cobh, one in Glanmire and one in Ballyvolane – all between 4pm and 9pm so they move very quickly."
“They may be using local knowledge to scout out what homes are unoccupied but all the houses they are targeting are vacant at the time and they usually strike in the evening, from 4pm until 9pm.
“Since October 8th in Mayfield Garda district we have had 40 burglaries with the thieves forcing either windows or doors to get in and make off with either cash or jewellery or both – nothing else.”
According to Supt Comyns, the gang is also stealing safes and he urged homeowners with a safe to make sure it was secured or bolted to a floor or wall.
Supt Comyns said the value of the haul now runs to tens of thousands of euro.
He said the gang uses different cars but on Friday they were caught on CCTV driving a dark-coloured Audi A9 series before heading back up the N8 motorway towards Dublin.
“They use high-powered cars and they head back up in the Dublin direction at high speed – sometimes clocking up to 200km/h so they don’t seem to care about attracting attention,” he said.
The criminals have threatened people who confronted them, as happened on Friday night when they were disturbed at a house in Mallow.
“They were spotted by a neighbour of the house they targeted and he challenged them but they pulled a blade on him and threatened him before smashing his car window and making off.”
Supt Comyns urged homeowners to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to their local Garda station.
He appealed to anyone who may be able to assist gardaí in their investigation into the criminal gang to contact Mayfield Garda station on 021-4558510 or any Garda station in confidence.
Separately, gardaí in the midlands recovered a substantial quantity of suspected stolen power tools and equipment in Co Laois on Saturday morning.
The large haul, believed to be worth tens of thousands of euro, was discovered when gardaí on routine patrol stopped a van towing a trailer at Irishtown, Mountmellick, at about 5am.
The quantity of equipment, which includes drills, strimmers, grinders, saws and hand tools of various types, was being described as “substantial” by gardaí.
Portlaoise gardaí seized the tools along with the van and trailer and said investigations are ongoing.
Gardaí are currently identifying property and cataloguing the items. Anyone who recognises any of the items is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org