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Copper

Gardaí 'severely disrupt' nationwide operation by Eastern European gang

Power cables have been cut down nationwide.

AN ORGANISED EASTERN European crime gang has been stealing ESB power cables across the country, gardaí say.

Chief Superintendent Michael O’Sullivan at the newly formed Drugs and Organised Crime unit explained that gardaí are in the midst of a major operation to clamp down on this.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that a Romanian organised crime gang is responsible, and the robberies are taking place right across the country.

“The modus operandi is they go out at night, climb poles, and cut down large tracts of wires – live wires – and spirit them away in the middle of the night.”

He said the operation takes place mainly at night in very rural areas.

They would identify copper wire travelling through bogs and fields, and they could travel a mile in from the road.

O’Sullivan said the groups have a “blatant disregard” for where they leave the live wires, which pose a danger to members of the public.

It’s estimated that the scrap value of the metal so far recovered is around €285,000, but the cost to the ESB of replacing this is as much as €4.7 million.

Gardaí following up the sale of this material have received “a lot of cooperation” from scrap merchants in Ireland, O’Sullivan said.

Some of these groups have operated throughout Europe and they see it as a very lucrative trade.

“They’re well used to plying their trade.”

Three men were due in court today in connection with the theft of electrical power lines.

Read: €100k damage as gang uses heavy-duty equipment to steal 7km of ESB cables >

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