A “trail of destruction” was left in the Portlaoise Parish Centre after a gang of thieves twice broke into the building over the Christmas period.
The glass doors were smashed by the gang two nights apart, in what is believed to have been attempts to access a safe on the premises.
The first incident occurred in the early hours of the morning after St Stephen’s Day, when a stolen car was used to reverse into the main door of the centre at 4am on December 27. Three men entered the premises and ransacked the reception area, eventually leaving the scene empty handed. The car used had been stolen previously and was later discovered burnt out.
Just two nights later the parish centre was again hit, although gardaí have said the culprits were disturbed in their attempts. According to information provided by Portlaoise Parish, four men were involved in the breaking of the glass door, with one man sustaining a cut to his arm in the process.
“One of the young men sustained a cut to his arm in the process and from the amount of blood, it appears to be a deep wound,” according to the parish newsletter, the Link Up.
The newsletter also said the men “left a trail of destruction in their wake”, and a new front door and frame will have to be made.
It is believed that the target of the thieves was a small safe on the premises, which was apparently empty at the time.
The newsletter explained that neither break-in had resulted in any gain for the “would be robbers”, but the damage caused was quite extensive.
“We are hopeful that the CCTV footage and the forensic evidence will lead to the perpetrators being identified,” said the newsletter, adding that the centre’s alarm system limited the culprits’ time on the premises.
Gardaí are working on the basis that the two incidents are connected. A garda spokesperson has confirmed to the Leinster Express that the gardaí are examining CCTV footage from the scene and are waiting on the result of forensics. Meanwhile, Superintendent Joe Prendergast declared that “nothing is sacred” in the wake of the break-ins.