Three individuals are being questioned following a €250,000 jewelery heist at Park Jewelers, Golden Island, Athlone in the early hours of March 2.
A man in his 20s in being questioned by Gardaí in Athlone, while two other men - one in his 20s and one in his 30s - are being questioned at Tullamore and Portlaoise Garda stations.
The three men, all Romanian nationals, were arrested after a Garda search of a rented property in Laois revealed the stolen jewelery. The men are also being questioned for their possible involvement in a spate of burglaries across the country in recent months.
In a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood thriller, the alleged thieves moved under the cover of Storm Emma and entered Golden island Shopping Centre through the roof. Once inside, they disabled the alarm and made off with a quarter of a million euro worth of jewelery.
With the town quiet due to a red weather warning, the alarm was not raised until a staff member came in to clear snow from the car park and found the jewelers ransacked and the roof damaged.
The Irish Independent reported this week that according to a senior source, the three men are part of a “military-trained international crime gang,” adding that charges against the suspects are “very likely” later in the week.
According to the same source, detectives have established that the men are linked to over 100 other burglaries and are wanted for similar crimes across Europe, including in Italy and Norway.
The three men are being held under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007, and can be detained for up to seven days. Garda investigations are ongoing.
The recent cold snap brought out the worst in some people, with the Athlone heist coming less than a day after a Lidl in Tallaght, Dublin, was partially demolished with a JCB and looted. Nine people were arrested.
These crimes prompted local Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran to call for life imprisonment for crimes committed during a red weather alert. The actions of these criminals, he said, put the lives of emergency services responders at risk, and “brought shame upon the entire country.”