By Ed Carty
Saturday April 29 2006
ARMED gangs have stolen more than €13m in hold-ups of cash-in-transit delivery vans since 2002, it emerged yesterday.
Despite more than 230 heists being investigated by garda detectives, only 22 cases have been brought against suspected robbers.
Labour Party justice spokesman Brendan Howlin said the shocking figures raised serious concerns for the Government and the security industry.
"The current cash-in-transit system appears to be operating like some massive ATM for the criminal gangs who can take what they like, with little apparent chance of being brought to justice," he said.
"The likelihood is that much of this money was used to finance the importation of drugs and arms, further boosting the coffers of the drug gangs and facilitating their destructive wars."
The Government figures showed that since 2002 there have been 237 recorded robberies of cash-in-transit vehicles with a total of €13.6m taken.
The worst year by far was 2005, when almost €6.3m was stolen and with just four months gone so far this year, €1.5m has already fallen into the hands of gangs.
The figures were obtained by Mr Howlin in reply to a written parliamentary question to the Justice Minister, Michael McDowell.
Unions, senior gardai, the Private Security Authority and Mr McDowell have held talks over the last few weeks in a bid to toughen security.
A dedicated anti-gang unit has been set up at Garda Metropolitan HQ in Dublin to tackle the spiralling crisis.
- Ed Carty