The gang could be responsible for as many as a dozen similar raids, with a number of callers contacting RTÉ’s Liveline yesterday to reveal how their stores had been targeted.
One of the most recent burglaries took place at the shop in Rathmolyon near Enfield in Co Meath, run for more than 30 years by Christy Ryan.
Last night he said: “Thank God myself and my wife are safe.”
His shop was targeted on Tuesday of last week by the raiders, who waited until midnight to strike.
They managed to gain entry by cutting two holes in the roof, leading into the shop area. They then took a number of items, focusing on tobacco and cosmetics.
They wore balaclavas and had a range of tools at their disposal, including an angle grinder. CCTV footage showed one of the raiders, while in the store, had a hatchet nearby.
“It just tears you asunder, this kind of thing,” Mr Ryan said. “We are certainly reviewing our security.”
Callers to Joe Duffy on RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline show — who had been burgled in a similar manner — were located from Sligo to Louth, and Mr Ryan said: “This is right across the country.”
Gardaí confirmed that the incident is being investigated, with gardaí in Summerhill station looking into a break-in at a store in which a large quantity of tobacco was stolen.
Another caller to Liveline, from Co Leitrim, said the raiders had only been foiled after they met timber as they tried to cut a hole in the roof.
They eventually gained entry to the store, but as alarms sounded, they left again within three minutes.
John Hughes of Advanced Pneumatic Technology Ltd told Liveline that he had heard of “dozens” of similar raids having been conducted around the country in recent months.