The mother of a two-year-old son reacted immediately when she saw four armed and masked men confront her husband as he left their house in Kilmeade, near Athy, in the early hours of yesterday.
It is understood the gang, who were not aware the alarm had been activated, became spooked soon after and fled on foot before making their getaway in a car. Gardaí from Athy were at the scene within a few minutes.
The attempted tiger kidnapping is the second in the Kildare in the past week and third in the county in three weeks. No money was taken in any of the incidents.
Gardaí will examine if the gang behind yesterday’s attempt was involved in any of the previous cases.
Garda experts are conducting a detailed examination on the white van to check for any forensic or DNA samples belonging to the criminals.
The ordeal began at 4.30am when an employee of Securicor, named locally as Martin Lambe, left his detached bungalow for work. He was immediately confronted by four armed and masked men.
The gang abducted him and entered the house with the intention of holding his wife and child hostage.
Fortunately the man’s wife, Sharon, managed to press a panic button.
“The gang didn’t know the panic button had been activated,” said a Garda source. “They took the man back to the house. The gardaí became aware very quickly and got there quickly.”
Gardaí believe the gang became suspicious for some reason and decided to flee, leaving their van behind.
Detectives suspect they may have been picked up in a car by another gang member. Kilmeade is a short distance from the M9 and the gang could have travelled on the main Athy to Kilcullen road to get to it.
A Garda operation was put in place and a Garda helicopter helped the search.
Garda sources said that while the gang had done some planning and knew where the man worked and at what time he left, they did not seem to be particularly organised and had to leave the van behind.
A Garda spokesman appealed for information: “Gardaí would like anyone who in the Kilmeade area of Co Kildare or anyone who was travelling on the N78 between Kilcullen and Athy, in the early hours of this morning to contact them at Kildare Garda Station on 045-527730.
“Gardaí are also appealing for anyone who may have seen any activity in the Kilmeade area in the last number of days to contact them.”
In a statement, the company said it was thankful its staff member was unharmed and that all security systems and procedures “worked effectively”.