By David Raleigh
Three neighbours living in a flooded community in Clare rowed in together last night to wash-out a two-man gang who were on their way to allegedly rob evacuated homes in a stolen army boat.
The inflatable Defence Forces dingy was stolen from a farmhouse in Springfield, Clonlara, around 8pm last night.
The gang was eventually cut off by two local men in another boat, as the alleged thieves crossed a flooded field on their way towards unoccupied homes left vacant by evacuated families.
The two alleged robbers made their escape and the boat was returned to the army.
"They were on their way over to houses which were evacuated by families forced out by the flood," said a local source.
"They said they were trying to get to Castleconnell but that's nowhere near here," they added.
A Garda source said: "They saw rich pickings in those houses. It's the lowest of the low."
"Imagine stealing a boat down here during the worst flood ever. That boat could be the difference between someone's life been saved in these treacherous waters," said a local woman.
"The fella who came across them told them to get the hell out of here or they'd be seeing bubbles."
Another local source said: "I was walking along one of the banks and I saw them and I knew they weren't local lads. I followed them for a while and then they were cut off by a man in another boat."
"After that they walked up the road through the water in their bare feet and then they put their socks and shoes on," they added.
Gardaí at Ardnacrusha are investigating.