Dublin crime gang investigated over border burglary spree
A Dublin crime gang is being investigated over a spate of burglaries in a border area of Co Tyrone.
Two homes were targeted on Saturday in the townland of Aghyaran near Castlederg, as well as a church across the border.
Police said they are investigating a link between the break-ins and gang members arrested by the Garda on Monday.
PSNI inspector John Hunter told the Ulster Herald that Garda had arrested four members of what appears to be "a mobile crime gang" from the Dublin area.
"We can confirm that a line of inquiry is whether they are connected to the burglaries on our side," he said.
"Gangs will sometimes travel great distances having thought about where they are going.
"The difficulty is that they will target an area for a short space of time, hit it and then not come back for weeks."
He said thieves were rarely caught in the act and were long gone by the time the crimes were reported.
Charlie Moss said that he returned from holiday with his wife to find that their home in McNally Park had been ransacked.
He believes the break-in took place on Saturday night, around the same time that the home of a local widow was targeted as she attended an anniversary Mass for her husband.
A Church of Ireland across the border was also targeted around the same time.
"Crime was unheard of in this area, but now the people who are doing these burglaries seem to be running wild. They're getting braver," Mr Moss added.
"At the weekend they came up to my home, which is in a built-up area, and before that they targeted a lot of the isolated homes."
He said it was a "massive shock" to find his back door has been smashed open and every room ransacked.
Inspector Hunter said thieves also used cold-calling as a means of finding out if addresses are empty.
"I would urge people to report that because it can sometimes be a precursor to a burglary happening in the area," he said.
"A lot of the premises being targeted at the moment are vacant, so they are obviously working that out in some way."
An increased police presence is planned in rural parts of west Tyrone in the coming weeks to address concerns.
"We have finite resources, but we will be trying where possible to maintain that," he added.
Yesterday officers from Strabane carried out vehicle checkpoints at Corgary Road in Castlederg.
They urged anyone who notices a suspicious vehicle on their street to report it straight away.
BY ALLAN PRESTON