Belfast Telegraph

Men held as burglary gang targeted

Detectives believe they have busted the country's most wanted burglary gang after a two-year reign of terror targeting business people living in rural Ireland.

Garda sources say the mob - who are family-related and mostly from Coolock, north Dublin - used performance cars and the motorway network to amass hundreds of thousands of euro during intensely violent hold-ups.

Seven men were lifted during an early morning high-speed cross-country chase after a brutal attack on a young family of five in Killenaule, near Thurles in Co Tipperary.

The arrests follow a lengthy investigation into a gang suspected of being behind countless heists - including on homes, post offices, filling stations and other businesses - mostly in remote areas of the countryside in the early hours of the morning.

"These are top drawer - they are top of our list," said one source.

"Their modus operandi is to the use the infrastructure of the motorways to reach the four corners of Ireland and back again to Dublin in high-powered cars within hours.

"They were targeting isolated businesses and business people, using extreme violence and could be behind as many as two or three aggravated burglaries in one night."

A seven-man gang burst into the home of Mark and Emma Corcoran in Burnchurch, Killenaule, at around 3am this morning.

Mr Corcoran, who runs a furniture and gym equipment business, was pistol-whipped across the face and tied up along with his wife during the ordeal, while their three daughters - all aged under eight - slept in their bedrooms.

The raiders then ransacked the house before making off with a small amount of cash and jewellery. They fled in a Volkswagen Passat and also took the Corcoran family car, a Kia Sorrento SUV.

Mr Corcoran is being treated for a suspected broken nose in South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel. The family are said to be "badly shaken" by the incident.

"It has been very traumatic for them," said a source.

Gardai responding to the break-in scrambled several cars and the Garda helicopter. A cross-country, high-speed chase resulted in five men being arrested in a VW Passat car at Naas, Co Kildare, at around 4.30am.

During a follow-up sting operation at Newlands Cross on the N7 outside Dublin at about 9am - which caused havoc with rush hour traffic in and out of the capital - another two men in a Kia Sorrento were detained.

Cash and jewellery were also recovered at the scene.

The seven men are all aged in their early 20s, with the eldest being just 26 years.

They were taken to a number of Garda stations around Dublin, Kildare and Laoise, before being transferred to Tipperary Garda station.

They are being held under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

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