At a Community Alert Meeting in Kilnaleck on Monday evening were (from left) Garda Kim Rogers, Garda Sergeant Michael Fitzpatrick and Garda Mairead Fox.

Gangs in suits and nice cars robbing Cavan homes

Cunning new gangs of criminals dressed in smart business suits and driving high powered Volvos and BMWs are cruising the rural roads in Cavan, Meath, Longford and Leitrim with one aim in mind - to rob as many homes as they can between 9am and 2pm. They are mainly bent on stealing cash and jewellery and usually force rear windows with screwdrivers or iron bars. They are often armed with knives. They are highly mobile and it is not unusual for them to be stealing in Mayo on Monday, Cork on Tuesday and Cavan on Wednesday. One senior garda source explained that they move all over the country and most of the gangs, who are based in Dublin, treat this activity as their way of life. There is evidence that they mainly target houses that are not fitted with alarms and they keep going until they are caught by the gardaí. People are urged to lock up sheds and secure their properties, and if you answer the front door to a stranger, make sure that the rear door is locked before going to the front one. These gangs are also visiting elderly people and offering to do power-hose cleaning or painting jobs at exorbitant prices. There is an inherent fear for the elderly being confronted by this situation, and some of these crimes are not even reported. These gangs tend not to get flustered when confronted by members of the public in their homes and sometimes present business cards, claiming they are in a position to carry out various enhancement works. Gardaí in Cavan have had success in recent weeks in nabbing some gang members and the drive goes on in unison with the community to put an end to this sort of criminal activity. Gardaí are urging all community alert groupings to re-focus their efforts to ensure that these new, smartly-attired criminal gangs are monitored from the moment they enter an area in any of these counties and ensure that car registration number are passed on accurately and promptly to An Garda Síochána, who can in turn act promptly to nab them. Lots of community alert groups have been given renewed impetus in recent months all over the border counties and the drive continues to ensure all communities are clued into the activities of these gangs. One of those re-focus meetings took place in Kilnaleck on Monday night of this week when Sergeant Michael Fitzpatrick and his colleagues Garda Mairead Fox and Kim Rogers outlined what people should be looking out for in their neighbourhood in relation to the type of people that are carrying out the crimes. Sergeant Michael Fitzpatrick told The Anglo-Celt that it is now imperative that people are really alert when it comes to noticing suspicious high powered cars floating around in their communities. He called on people to note numbers and makes of cars and to ring the gardaí immediately they spot anything they deem suspicious or out of the way in their area. Sergeant Fitzpatrick said the purpose of the Neighbourhood Watch meeting was to educate people about the type of gangs that was committing these robberies. He pointed out that gangs were moving around the country without drawing the same level of attention to their movements as similar gangs did in the past. Sergeant Fitzpatrick said that people would not readily pick these people out as criminals at a first sighting in an area and that is why the appeal is being made for those who spot such individuals around an area or dropping off individuals near homes along rural roads to take heed straight away and report such activity. • See also, page 5.

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