Organised gang of Eastern European thieves operating in Ireland

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A major investigation is ongoing into an Eastern European criminal gang which targeted businesses in rural Ireland, stealing high-end goods and taking them to Lithuania.

Limerick Circuit Court yesterday heard Europol, Interpol and gardaí are involved in tracking the international professional burglary gang which has carried out robberies with “military precision” in Munster.

Gang member Aurimas Petraska pleaded guilty to a string of major burglaries when he appeared before the court yesterday.

The court heard the burglaries involved the theft of €150,000 of women’s clothing and Chanel beauty products from boutiques and pharmacies across the region.

Prosecuting counsel Michael Collins told the court the gang acted with “military precision”.

“Dressed in black fatigues, wearing head lights”, the gang were seen on CCTV footage inside the premises they robbed “checking their watches at regular intervals”.

The gang timed their robberies to perfection, he said. “They were highly sophisticated… in and out in six minutes.”

The women’s clothing, worth €80,000 and stolen from Isobel Boutique, Adare, Co Limerick, was conveyed to a Dublin logistics company to be shipped to Lithuania.

Petraska admitted transforming “cheap” cars into battering rams, capable of smashing through the premises.

Petraska had several previous convictions – namely for theft and public order offences. The court was told he dropped out of a university course in his native Lithuania, and came to Ireland in 2005.

Petraska was paid around €3,000 for each robbery. He did not disclose the identity of the gang boss.

Sentencing for Petraska was adjourned until May.

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