Port under surveillance for stolen farm machinery

Gardaí and customs officials have significantly increased surveillance and spot checks at Ringaskiddy Port in Co Cork in the belief that criminal gangs have been smuggling expensive farm and construction machinery out of the country in containers.

News of the increased vigilance was given to members of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) yesterday by senior gardaí.

Superintendent Con Cadogan told JPC members that, on one weekend last month, three diggers were stolen in the county.

One, believed to be worth more than €50,000, was stolen from the Ballinhassig area, but the thieves abandoned it after they drove it too hard and it broke down on the way to the port.

A digger was also stolen from a cemetery in Bishopstown and another was taken in north Cork.

“We are now checking everything going out [of the port]. We believe a lot of machinery has been going out in containers,” Supt Cadogan said.

Meanwhile, Supt Pat McCarthy said gardaí had recently recovered valuable farm machinery which had been stolen in England and ended up in the Mallow area.

He said they recovered a Massey Ferguson and John Deere tractor. The latter was worth around €90,000, but had been purchased by a local person for just €17,000.

Supt Cadogan said it was a lucrative business for crime gangs operating on both sides of the water and advised farmers they should fit their valuable machinery with a tracking device, which would make it easier for gardaí to recover it.

JPC chairman and Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn said he was also aware of a number of thefts of quad bikes from farmers in recent months in the north Cork area and these still had not been found.

In the past few years, highly organised gangs have stolen millions of euro worth of maritime equipment, especially high-powered outboard motors and smuggling it out for resale in eastern Europe.

It is believed they have also smuggled them out of the country in containers.

Concern was also raised by JPC members about a recent rise in the number of burglaries in the county, a lot of which are being perpetrated by Dublin-based gangs.

Supt Cadogan said the number of non-aggravated burglaries in the city and county in the second quarter of this year was 382, compared to 315 in the same period for 2014.

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