Belfast Telegraph

Four men arrested after police foil car-switch burglary spree with checkpoint stinger

By Joanne Sweeney

A spate of burglaries in counties Down and Armagh has resulted in four men being arrested in a cross-border police operation.

Three men aged 23 and a 21-year-old man were arrested in Castlewellan at the end of a police operation which involved  several car switches by the thieves.

Three cars were stolen along with a sum of cash as three premises in Killinchy, Markethill and Keady were burgled on Monday and Tuesday.

The concerted police effort involved a sting checkpoint and the help of An Garda Siochanca.

A green Range Rover was stolen from a property in Ballymacashen Road, Killinchy on Monday morning.

It was reported to police as being spotted in suspicious circumstances in the Banbridge and Markethill areas later that day.

A hairdressers in Markethill was later discovered to have been burgled.

The car was then spotted driving towards Keady where it attempted to go through a police checkpoint in Davis Street.

Despite being stung by a police stinger, it drove off but was found abandoned in Market Street.

A sum of cash was taken from a Centra store in the town.

Police  became  aware of the theft of a silver Ford Focus from the Lake Road area of Keady, which was  spotted in the Newry area around in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It was found abandoned on fire in Castlewellan Forest Park.

Afterwards, police stopped a  blue Peugeot 106 in Mill Hill, Castlewellan where a sum of cash was found  and the four men were arrested.

E District Crime Manager, Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Wright said: “This was a time consuming and resource intense operation which involved officers from across E District and into C District.

"All officers worked together to keep track of the vehicles used and also notified our colleagues in An Garda Siochanca when it became apparent that the car was crossing the border."

The 23-year-old men were arrested on suspicion of burglary and a 21-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and driving with excess speed.

The four men are assisting police with their enquiries.

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