Special Garda unit set up to deal with armed robberies


The Garda has announced it has set up a special unit to track down the gangs who conduct armed robberies. The unit is composed of detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) supported by armed officers from the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).

The move comes just as banks are preparing to move huge sums of Irish currency to central handling areas for destruction as the euro is introduced. Garda∅ believe Dublin gangs are preparing to step up their raids on the cash in transit.

Senior detectives in Dublin have reported that several young Dublin gangs have latched on to the ease with which large amounts cash can be stolen from security companies moving money from stores and to ATMs. One security company in Dublin has had 28 of its vans robbed so far this year.

In one robbery in south central Dublin in September, two men armed with Stanley knives held up to security guards and escaped with over £200,000. Detectives arrested two men and a file is being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

One gang from Finglas is believed to have carried out up to nine robberies. Two members of one family from Finglas were arrested earlier this week about the robbery of £260,000 from a security van at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre last weekend.

The majority of robberies have taken place in the west and north of the city. But the latest, on Thursday, involved the snatch of more than £80,000 from a security van at Leopardstown Race Course. Two youths on a motorcycle held up the two security men and fired a sawn-off shotgun before escaping.

Some of the gangs involved are understood to include members of families with traditional links to organised crime. It is believed that proceeds of the robberies are being funnelled into the drugs trade in some areas.

The fears of an upsurge in the armed raids has prompted the move to set up the special unit under what is known as Operation Discovery.

The head of the NBCI, Chief Supt Seβn Camon, has appointed Det Supt Gerry O'Connell to head the new unit. Det Supt O'Connell was involved in the Veronica Guerin investigation and in "Operation Trace", the investigation into the disappearances and suspected murders of young women in the Wicklow and Midlands area.