Gardaí were last night questioning seven men in relation to an aggravated burglary in which a couple and their three children aged under eight were subjected to a “frightening” experience in their home.
Gardaí believe they have in fact smashed a gang that has raided homes across rural Ireland.
It’s understood the gang got away with about €1,500 from the rural Tipperary home of Mark Corcoran and Emma O’Dwyer after forcing their way into the house and threatening the family early yesterday.
The couple were at home in the Burnchurch area, about 6km from the village of Killenaule, at about 3am when a gang broke into the house.
It’s believed the gang tried to open the front door of the dormer bungalow, located on a remote cul-de-sac, before smashing a large double-glazed window.
They threatened the couple with guns and knives and tied up Mr Corcoran while forcing Emma O’Dwyer to retrieve whatever money was in the house. She handed over all the cash and it’s believed the gang may have taken some jewellery as well. The couple run a gym supply business, Crazy Fit at Home.
A local man who knows the family said the gang “threatened to shoot them” when looking for money.
An uncle of Emma O’Dwyer, John O’Dwyer, said the family were “very shaken up” following the incident: “One of the kids came out [while it was happening] and it was very, very frightening. They tied them up and they had guns and knives.”
Mark Corcoran suffered a broken nose when he was struck with the butt of a gun, but the family were otherwise unharmed, although deeply traumatised.
John O’Dwyer said that as the family only have a small business “in the middle of nowhere,” the gang “knew what they were doing”.
Armed detectives tracked the raiders as they made their escape back to Dublin, culminating in a fleet of Garda cars swooping on a suspect vehicle near Newlands Cross at around 9am.
Ordinary motorists were caught up in the chase when the stolen vehicle carrying two other gang members crashed in a line of traffic near Bewley’s Hotel after being rammed by a Garda vehicle. Some cash, jewellery and shotguns were subsequently discovered in the raiders’ car.
A few hours earlier, another vehicle containing five members of the gang was stopped outside Naas, Co Kildare.
Garda sources confirmed that the suspects were members of a gang which have been the target of officers involved in Operation Fiacla — the codename for the crackdown on criminals carrying out armed raids in rural parts of the country.
Garda sources revealed the arrested members of the gang are well-known criminals from the Coolock area of north Dublin, some of whom are members of an extended Traveller family.
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