By Tom Brady
Thursday November 01 2001
GARDAI have recovered stolen cars and jeeps worth more than £500,000 after raiding two provincial warehouses used by highly organised Dublin crime gangs.
All of the vehicles were taken in the greater Dublin region and were intended to be broken up for sale as parts to selected scrapyards around the country.
The warehouses, which also contained other high-value stolen goods, were uncovered after detectives from the Garda's stolen vehicles squad, based at Harcourt Square in Dublin, carried out a lengthy investigation into two car rings based in the capital.
Gardai said last night that pressure on the gangs had forced them to move their storage depots out of the Dublin area and into the provinces where the vehicles were being "chopped up" and prepared for delivery to scrapyard agents.
Detectives estimated that on the black market the vehicles would have fetched about half their retail worth as parts.
In a Limerick warehouse, the stolen vehicles squad, working with local gardai, recovered cars worth around £300,000 including one £100,000 Mercedes.
And in the latest raid detectives and gardai from the Cavan-Monaghan division swooped on a warehouse in Belturbet, Co Cavan, and recovered 14 vehicles that had all been stolen in the Dublin region in the past seven months. The vehicles ranged from top-of-the-market Landrover Discovery to Volkswagen Passat and Toyota Corolla cars.
A large quantity of alloy wheels, car engines, other vehicle parts and electrical tools were also recovered and the haul was estimated to be worth at least £200,000.
Some of the tools were still in their initial packing and were thought to have been part of a haul taken in a burglary of a premises in the Naas-Newbridge area recently.
The gangs involved in the Limerick and Belturbet depots operate separately, but gardai believe the members know each other. Each gang is about six-strong and, according to detectives, the racket is very carefully planned.
Gardai are satisfied they know the identities of the main players.
One detective said last night: "Moving the depots out of Dublin is a relatively new trend and the gangs had hoped that relocation would allow them to break up the vehicles and distribute them to scrapyards without attracting too much attention.
"But we have made a lot of progress with our inquiries in the past couple of weeks and are gathering evidence against the gangs involved."
Gardai are now trying to find owners for the unidentified vehicle parts and the sets of industrial tools while detectives are also trying to establish if other storage depots have been set up elsewhere in the State.
- Tom Brady