A notorious Dublin based gang, suspected of carrying out burglaries across counties Cavan and Leitrim, are facing potentially lengthy jail terms after gardai arrested all three members in north Longford.
All three members were arrested following a daring chase across Ballinamuck and Drumlish in recent days following an operation involving both the garda helicopter and dog units.
It’s understood as many as nine patrol cars were brought in to assist officers from the Granard Garda District as the gang attemped to evade arrest by abandoning their getaway car and escaping on foot.
Details of the breakthrough were disclosed by gardai at a Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting last week.
Its success has since been attributed to the North Longford area’s highly productive community text alert system, an initiative which has seen crime rates drop by almost 50 per cent over the past 12 months.
“They were after carrying out break-ins in Killeshandra and Leitrim when the car was spotted in our area,” said a spokesperson this week.
“We immediately let our text people know and that allowed us to pinpoint exactly where they were going. The (garda) helicopter was brought in and within three minutes we had them effectively cornerned.”
Trapped and with seemingly nowhere to go, the gang ditched their car before racing across a number of fields.
Arrested a short time later, gardai have since confirmed all three were charged in connection with the incident with an unidentified quantity of stolen goods also being recovered.
“It was one of our better results,” added the spokesperson. “We actually had two transition year students with us at the time and they saw just how many people were coming out of their houses to see what was going on. We were also getting text messages and calls into the station all the time, telling us of where they (gang) were.”
So far, an estimated 3,000 households across the north Longford area have signed up to the scheme. Its popularity, first highlighted in the local media, has also prompted interest from national publications as well as from the Gardai’s most senior personnel.
“We have been featured in both the Daily Mail and RTE evening news while I was also asked to give a presentation at the (Garda) Commissioners Conference,” Superintendent Ian Lackey told last week’s meeting.
Giving his reaction to the operation and the wider text alert initative more generally, Supt Lackey spoke of how important input from local communities have become in the fight against organised crime.
“These people were from a top Dublin gang that just leave the capital and travel across the country carrying out burglaries,” he said.
News of the continuing fall-off in crime levels across north Longford was, meanwhile, given the unanimous backing of local politicians.
“The figures speak for themselves,” said an enthused Town Mayor, Cllr PJ Reilly. “I’d say criminals from outside this area, if they weren’t before, are now well aware it (community text alert) is up and running.”