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Garda warning as 35 unlocked cars hit in crime spree

Saturday, 9th February, 2019 11:30pm

Story by Kieran O'Mahony
Garda warning as 35 unlocked cars hit in crime spree

A CITY-based criminal gang may be targeting West Cork housing estates looking for unlocked cars to burgle or steal.

A crime spree last weekend saw 35 thefts from vehicles in West Cork – almost all unlocked – in various estates in Clonakilty, Belgooly and Riverstick. 

And four vehicles were stolen – a car and a van from Clonakilty in the early hours of Sunday, while cars were also taken from Kealkil and Belgooly on Sunday night/Monday morning.

There was a total of 21 instances of items being stolen from vehicles in three different housing estates in Clonakilty. 

There were another 14 thefts from vehicles in housing estates in both Belgooly and Riverstick, near Kinsale.

While gardaí are keeping an ‘open mind’, they are examining the theory that the culprits are part of a gang of young males, possibly from Cork city, which is blitzing housing estates, targeting unlocked vehicles.

Supt Brendan Fogarty of Bandon Garda Station said: ‘Unfortunately most of the cars were unlocked, with just one car broken into to gain access, and it was mostly small amounts of cash and purses that were stolen. One of the cars which was stolen has since been recovered,’ said Supt Fogarty.

He added that investigations are ongoing into the thefts from the vehicles. ‘We can’t say for definite who is behind these thefts, or if they are related.’

And he urged motorists to ensure vehicles were locked while unattended and to ‘park smart.’

‘I would ask people to park their cars in a secure, well-lit location and to ensure that no property like tools, laptops or jewellery is left on display,’ said the Supt. ‘But most of all make sure that you lock your vehicle. And this is not just an issue for us in Cork. Criminals throughout the country are going around housing estates and trying every car door until they get one that is unlocked.’

The Clonakilty incidents took place between 3am and 5.30am on Sunday. Items stolen included mostly cash, coins and a camera, and none of the vehicles were broken into – they were all unlocked.

Supt Ger O’Mahony of Clonakilty Garda Station said: ‘The one message we want to go out from here is that people still need to lock their cars and leave their keys in a secure area.’

Two vehicles – a van and a car – were stolen from the Lady’s Cross estate in Clonakilty, where the majority of the thefts from cars occurred, and these have yet to be recovered.

However, a vehicle that is suspected to have been used in the crime spree was recovered on Tuesday and is currently undergoing a technical examination by gardaí.

Gardaí are also appealing for information in relation to the theft of a car from Curraglass, Kealkil last Sunday evening. The theft of the black estate car occurred between 6pm and 8.30pm and anyone with information is asked to contact gardaí in Macroom or Ballingeary.

The thefts from unlocked cars weren’t just restricted to West Cork – there were further thefts from vehicles in Ballincollig, Douglas, Togher, Passage West and in Ladysbridge in East Cork.

Supt Fogarty is asking members of the public to contact any garda station if they noticed any suspicious people or vehicles around Clonakilty, Belgooly or Riverstick between Saturday night and Monday morning.

‘We would also like to hear from the owners of any cars or taxis who were driving in those areas with dash-cams.’

Anyone with information can contact Clonakilty Garda Station on 023-8821570 or Bandon Garda Station on 023-8852200.