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Gang mounted '40 raids at off-licences in three months'

By Alan Erwin

Published 06/08/2016

Police are investigating a family for potential involvement in targeting alcohol retailers from Londonderry down to Lisnaskea, stealing up to £10,000 worth of stock
Police are investigating a family for potential involvement in targeting alcohol retailers from Londonderry down to Lisnaskea, stealing up to £10,000 worth of stock

A Co Donegal gang is suspected of carrying out more than 40 organised shoplifting raids on stores in border areas of Northern Ireland in the last three months, the High Court has heard.

Police are investigating a family for potential involvement in targeting alcohol retailers from Londonderry down to Lisnaskea, stealing up to £10,000 worth of stock.

Details emerged as bail was refused to an 18-year-old man who was charged with four other thefts in various parts of Co Tyrone and Co Fermanagh on July 28.

Prosecutors claimed Terry Ward was arrested trying to get across the border at Belcoo with three other men who managed to escape into the Republic of Ireland.

Ward, a father-of-two from Station Road in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, is separately accused of dangerous driving over an allegedly staged motoring accident.

Trolleys were loaded up with bottles of vodka and whisky by men who targeted supermarkets in last week's raids, the court heard.

Robin Steer, prosecuting, disclosed that a further 41 thefts stretching back to May are being probed.

Although Ward is not charged with any of those incidents, Mr Steer said police believe they were carried out by one gang based in Ballyshannon.

Members of a family are suspected of targeting towns near the border, including Belcoo, Castlederg, Enniskillen and Omagh.

"The total value in relation to all these offences is about £8,000 to £10,000.

"Police are still investigating these matters, (which involve) organised shoplifting."

Refusing bail, the judge said: "If the Crown case is right, he's part of an organised group of men involved in quite outrageous behaviour."

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