An on-the-run burglar has fled and his rapist friend remains in hiding after groups of locals began patrolling a town where residents are living in fear.
Joseph McCabe, who raped a pensioner, and Casey Morgan, described as violence-prone, have been living in west Donegal for the past fortnight.
Both are wanted by the PSNI: McCabe (29) for breaching the terms of his release from jail after serving half of a 14-year term for the rape of a 64-year-old woman in Belfast, while Morgan (18) has been described as an extremely violent offender with convictions for burglary.
Sources said that Morgan has now left the Dungloe/Burtonport area of west Donegal and was seen catching a bus to Dublin late on Sunday night.
The Irish Independent can also reveal that gardai are investigating whether or not McCabe and Morgan are the same two men who were stopped in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, two weeks ago by a garda patrol. They are alleged to have given officers false names and addresses.
McCabe is free on bail from Sligo court where he faced charges of being in breach of sex-offender-register regulations. He is now in a 'safe house', according to sources.
Local groups are taking turns to patrol the 6km stretch between Dungloe and Burtonport with garda patrols also visible yesterday. There is growing anger among residents over how a convicted rapist wanted in the North is allowed to live in the area.
Gardai are said to be closely monitoring McCabe's movements but cannot arrest him until they receive a European arrest warrant from the PSNI.
McCabe and Morgan had been staying in a caravan before being moved by gardai last week. There has been a steady stream of criminal friends from Dublin and Belfast visiting them over the past week.
One local said: "We saw Morgan get a bus to Dublin on Sunday night and we were glad to see the back of him.
"Local people have had a number of meetings in the past few days and we are taking turns to patrol the area.
"We want to reassure our families that everything is being done to keep them safe. These guys were living close to pensioners who have never locked a door in their lives. Now they are living in real fear," he added.
McCabe had been driving a Northern-registered black Audi car but there was no sign of him or his car yesterday.
Gardai are telling residents who telephoned the station in Dungloe yesterday that they are aware of McCabe and are monitoring the situation.
McCabe, from west Belfast, was jailed for 14 years in 2006 for raping and burgling a 64-year-old woman in her north Belfast home as she lay in bed reading.
At the time, the sentencing judge said that McCabe had subjected his victim to a "terrifying, prolonged ordeal". He said the attack was a "violent sexual offence carried out with significant gratuitous violence".