Garda warning to roaming crime gangs in Offaly as taskforce set up

Gardai are concerned

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@offalyexpress.ie

Crime, Laois, politics, gardaí, gangs

Laois Offaly Chief Superintendent John Scanlon.

A special Laois Offaly Garda Division taskforce will swing into action this week to crack down on gangs responsible for a wave of burglaries and attacks.

Divisional Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlon has allocated a team of eight Gardaí to focus on preventing crime and catching criminal gangs who have left a trail of destruction in recent weeks.

The team will work with gardaí on the ground and be supported by the regional armed garda Emergency Response Unit supported by national units.

Armed checkpoints will feature during the operation which will activate at times that Gardaí believe the gangs are most likely to strike.

The initiative is in response to a recent wave of violent burglaries in which armed gangs came face to face with Laois and Offaly gardaí. Chief Supt Scanlon said he and his colleagues are 'extremely concerned'.

It is understood the gangs struck in Laois and Offaly but also roamed around neighbouring counties and as far away as Cork. The most violent incident involved the beating of a farmer with iron bars in south Offaly. In another incident a shot was fired at a garda who gave chase.

"As a response to a surge in burglaries I have put a taskforce in place led by a sergeant that is going to operate for a month to try and make an impact," said Chief Supt Scanlon.

He said the public deserve a dedicated response.

"We are going to deny them the freedom of movement to drive around in the night with impunity. There is going to be a significant risk to criminals coming out to commit crime at night," he said.

He appealed to the public for help but also had a warning to people not to discuss their neighbours with strangers.

"I'd actively ask anybody who knows anything about these characters to come forward. What happened to the man in Offaly was absolutely shocking," he said.  

"We would ask people to respect the privacy of individuals and not suggest they have money when they may not have any.

"I would also ask people to look in on family, neighbours or friends who are living alone who are feeling afraid at the moment. There has been a strong tradition in rural Ireland of people looking in on each other and I'd ask that that be renewed," he said.

The garda also advised elderly people to take advantage of the Senior Alert Scheme by obtaining a personal pendant alarm. He also urged people to have family and neighbours' phone numbers programmed into their mobile phones for emergencies.

He has alerted the public who own high spec cars, especially Audis, to be extra careful in securing their cars and store keys safely within houses.

He urged people to contact the gardaí immediately and not take matters into their own hands if they suspect that an attempt is being made to steal a car.

He said such calls can be hugely helpful in preventing thefts and in help gardaí tracking down gangs.

The family groups involved are understood to have been based in Kildare and Laois.

Gardaí warned that, while they have substantial intelligence on the those involved in the recent crime wave, other gangs and individuals who are also capable of burglary.

In terms of resources Chief Supt Scanlon said he would never refuse extra resources but added that the Laois Offaly Division has benefited from new recruits. He added that it does take time for new recruits to build the policing experience needed especially in rural areas.

He expects the Regional Armed Response Unit to convert to 24 hour coverage in the coming months. He said lessons could be learned from the initiative being taken in Laois Offaly.