GARDAÍ are appealing for information on a criminal gang who last week committed a string of armed robberies across Portarlington, and in one terrifying incident disturbed a woman as she slept in her bed.
The crime wave began last Wednesday (January 19), when a man wearing a balaclava entered a filling station in the town armed with a sawn-off shotgun and proceeded to rob a quantity of cash from the premises.
On Thursday, January 20, the same masked man entered the Lidl store at Canal Road, again brandishing the shotgun in full view of the late afternoon shoppers. Although he demanded money from the staff, this time he ultimately left empty-handed.
The robbers next targeted a number of housing estates on the outskirts of the town last Friday evening, January 21. Four homes were broken into and besides cash, a number of items were taken, including jewellery, flatscreen TVs, cameras and computer equipment. Although most of the houses were empty, one lady who was sleeping in one of the homes woke to discover a man standing in her bedroom. Thankfully, the man fled the building once he was detected.
Speaking this week to the Leinster Express, Superintendent Philip Lyons said the garda were convinced the shotgun robberies and house break-ins were connected. He also said there was a possible link between the shotgun assailant and a robbery involving a sawn-off shotgun at a shop in Tullamore recently.
Three people were arrested over the weekend and significant progress has been made in the investigation, and the superintendent added that garda have already recovered a large portion of the goods stolen during the break-ins, including some of the cash.
In a separate incident, Portarlington garda have reported a break-in at the Gracefield GAA club in recent weeks, in which a quantity of copper piping was stolen. This follows similar break-ins at GAA clubs in Clonaslee and Kilcavan. The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with any information on any of these crimes can call 05786 23112.