Gardai are investigating a raft of daylight burglaries carried out by a travelling gang all on the same day - one of which saw a sword used as a calling card.
The gang of three hit four Cavan homes - two in Mullagh and one each in Mountnugent and Ballyjamesduff on Wednesday, September 11.
They are also suspected to have hit two homes in Kells and another in Athboy, Co Meath. They have not been ruled out of a similar burglary the next day at a home in near Ballyjamesduff - bringing the tally to eight homes in all.
Gardaí are appealing for information on a black Volvo hatchback with the partial registration of 01D spotted in the areas of all the Wednesday burglaries. The first break-in occurred at some time between 9am and 1pm at a home in Mullaghland, Mullagh.
The three hoods threw stones through a back window, smashing it to gain entry to the home which they then ransacked. It is not known if anything was taken in that raid. Then, immediately after the first break-in, the gang went to a neighbouring home and again smashed in a back window and ransacked the house, damaging a door in the process. It is thought the gang might have been interrupted as again it appears there was nothing taken. The third incident, however, took a turn for the bizarre, where a home at Lisnacanigan, Mountnugent, was broken into, again a Volvo was seen in the area. Some time before 3pm, when a man returned to his home, he found that the back window had been smashed and a macabre calling card had been left - a sword.
Stones were again used in the break-in to gain entry and a sword was removed from its housing on a wall and planted upright into the living room floor to be discovered by the unsuspecting homeowner.
Yet another burglary was reported on the same day at Barconey, near Ballyjamesduff, when a side window was smashed in between 12.50-2.50pm. Jewellery and cash were taken and the culprits made their escape.
The theives did not limited themselves to Cavan, however, at around 12.15pm on the same day, two young males tried to force the back door of a house at Moynalty Road in Kells, when they were confronted by one of the occupants. It is understood there were two men in the house at the time and one of them received a cut above the eye after being assaulted. The two culprits fled the scene and made their escape in the black Volvo hatchback.
The same day a house was broken into at Higginstown, Athboy, Co Meath, during the day time. A window at the rear of the house was smashed to gain entry and a laptop was stolen.
Then a house at Oakleigh Park, Kells, was targeted. The house was broken into between 12noon and 1.30pm and a small sum of cash was taken.
The next day, Thursday, September 12, a darkly-coloured Audi was seen near the scene of another break-in, this time in nearby Pullafree, Ballyjamesduff.
The ransacking of this house occurred some time between 8am and 3pm, when the owner was out but a familiar modus operandi was used as stones were again thrown through a back window.
The house was thoroughly ransacked with damage done to a bedroom door and the culprit, or culprits, made off with cash, jewellery, other valuables and a laptop.
The spate of thefts come on the heel of a particularly callous act that occurred in the Ballyjamesduff area on the previous Sunday (September 8).
The sickening incident in Derrylurgan saw a pensioner robbed of €500 worth of winter heating oil stolen from a tank at the back of her house just 24 hours after getting it in.
The oil was delivered on Saturday at around 5pm and the next day was gone from the tank before 7pm, whenshe went to use it for the first time.
The thieves have long used the M3 motorway for speedy getaways back to north and west Dublin with criminal gangs there blamed for one-day crime-sprees.
The motorway joins the N3 at Kells and is a gateway for criminals from the capital to access the south of the county with, in most cases, rural houses targeted for a clutch of raids.
Gardai are advising people to be aware of the nights getting darker earlier, be vigilant and to secure their houses and valuables before leaving home.
Vanessa Clarke is the community alert officer at Muintir na Tire for the region:
“I’d recommend people lock sheds, don’t have any valuables visible, be vigilant and to actually report things to the gardai because the stats will soon mirror what’s going on if people report incidents,” she said.
“Join a community alert, or set one up, if you have text alert use that, be aware of people calling to your door, they could easily be on a recon trip for a group looking to map out a route.
“Just be a little more savvy. A lot of these crimes are opportunist in nature, just don’t give them the opportunity. Go to a local supplier for trades offered on doorsteps for the sake of a few bob, don’t give out personal information and keep each other informed.
“As we get into the winter months it’s going to be easier for people to move around without being noticed so report and write down anything suspicious, or take a note of it on your phone - descriptions, number plates are key,” she said.
Gardai have carried out door-to-door inquiries in all cases and are appealing for information.
Bailieborough Garda Station can be contacted at (042) 969 4580 and Ballyjamesduff is on (049) 854 4102.
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