Two members of a notorious burglary gang had “no idea” they were caught on a hidden security camera when they ransacked a garda’s family home, causing thousands of euros worth of damage.
he Irish Independent can reveal that the two criminals – who are based in Tallaght, Dublin – were recorded on the device after they broke into the property on May 1 and used hammers to smash up furniture, TVs, tiles in the house and even a toilet.
This newspaper has previously reported on how the gang went on the vandalism orgy after finding out the homeowner was a garda when they discovered his official notebook as they burgled the property.
Carlow detectives now say they are confident of bringing charges against the pair. They have since questioned the suspects about the burglary and are gathering more evidence.
The identities of the suspects cannot be revealed as they are facing serious charges before the courts.
“The CCTV images of the suspects along with other evidence means that this case should be progressed,” a senior source said. “They had no idea they were being filmed on a security device when they were in that home.”
Gardaí believe they are part of a wider criminal network of over 30 burglars involved in targeting homes across the country and in Northern Ireland.
The criminals were questioned by gardaí about multiple burglaries in Co Carlow earlier this year, in which it is suspected they used a stolen black-coloured Volkswagen Golf R-Line to travel on the motorway network to target unoccupied homes.
Despite identifying this car, which was stolen in England, gardaí have not yet recovered it.
Officers in the southeast, including in Co Wexford, are investigating the theory that organised burglary gangs based in south Dublin are receiving key information from local criminals to direct them to what homes they should target.
Burglary and related offences increased nationwide by 3.8pc in the past year according to figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this week.
A total of 9,270 burglaries were reported in the first three months of this year compared with 8,933 in the same period of 2021.
The highly respected garda at the centre of the burglary is a family man who lives near Tullow, Co Carlow and works in a Co Kildare station.
Nobody was in his home when the burglary gang struck on the evening of May 1. It was one of five crimes in less than two hours linked to the Volkswagen Golf R-Line.
“What seems to have happened is that when they broke into the house they found a garda notebook,” said the source.
“The reality of the situation was that there was not much in the house that they would be interested in thieving.
“So what they decided to do instead was smash the place up – they destroyed the house.
“It was clearly an awful scene for the garda and his family to be confronted with. The belief is it happened because of pure spite.
“The individuals who are suspected of carrying out this crime and many, many more are based in Tallaght and they carry out burglaries for a living – it is their occupation.
“They generally go for unoccupied homes, so you could say they are not looking for violence. But what happened in that home, where you have lads prepared to destroy everything in it, shows they are well capable of violence.”
Since the crime spree happened, there has been a number of garda operations against the gang, who are still considered to be “highly active” despite a number of significant arrests in recent weeks.