Raiders break into 60 Shannon boats


GARDAÍ ARE investigating a major raid on pleasure craft at a marina on the river Shannon in which an estimated 60 boats were vandalised and robbed in an elaborate night-time operation that went on for several hours.

Garda sources said it appeared at least five people were involved in the raid, which unfolded over near five-hours in the early hours.

The targeted vessels were among about 300 boats moored at Butler’s marina close to Carrick- on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.

The attack occurred early on Tuesday morning.

Some of the vessels were vandalised while others were robbed of a range of items, from electronic goods to nautical equipment, such as GPS systems, flat-screen TVs and alcohol.

Gardaí say it will be impossible to determine the full extent of what was taken until all boat owners assess their own vessels and report what is missing.

The cost of the damage to the boats during the daring attack will also not be known until all vessels are checked.

The raid concluded at about 5.30am on Tuesday and was carried out by a masked gang that appears to have used a number of vehicles to take the stolen goods from the site.

When contacted by The Irish Timesyesterday, a staff member at Butler’s marina said the company was not in a position to comment on the case.

Inland Waterways Association of Ireland president Paul Garland confirmed 60 boats were targeted.

“There were certainly 40 of them that have had direct thefts,” he said, “and another 20 that have been interfered with.”

They took “mainly loose items like binoculars, GPS systems and flat-screen televisions. One of them attempted to take an outboard engine but they obviously found it too heavy and they abandoned it on the jetty.”

Mr Garland, who lives in nearby Roosky, Co Roscommon, said the area was normally very safe for mooring vessels.

The gang involved gained access to the marina through hedging in an area they believed was not covered by the facility’s CCTV system.

The gang’s vehicles were parked slightly away from the site, also in the apparent belief they would not be picked up by the cameras.

However, the CCTV system recorded at least five people, who were masked and wearing gloves, robbing the boats.

Gardaí believe all five made dozens of trips between the boats and the vehicles to load the stolen items.

The cabins in the boats were either forced open or opened with bolt cutters.

One boat owner, who asked not to be named, said the thieves had made sure to take the remote controls of electrical equipment they had stolen.

Another owner said the thieves appeared to have ransacked his boat because they could not find the remote control for the television.

Garda Supt Noel Carolan of Carrick-on-Shannon Garda station said the stolen items, many of which would only be of use to the sailing fraternity, may be taken out of the country to be sold on the black market.

The area was sealed off yesterday as members of the Garda Technical Bureau carried out an examination of the large crime scene.

A major Garda investigation has been put in place in an effort to identify those responsible before any of the stolen items can be sold.

Supt Carolan added: “Understandably there are large numbers of people involved from across the country who have had their property damaged and who we are making contact with.”

He appealed to anybody who may have seen anything suspicious in the area to contact gardaí in Carrick-on-Shannon.

There are plans to circulate a list of the stolen items to the estimated 4,000-strong inland boating fraternity, most of whom are members of the waterways association, in the hope that if any of the specialist nautical equipment is offered for sale those responsible may be caught.