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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
gardai press office Radioactive material
high risk

Highly dangerous radioactive material stolen by burglar in Swords

The lightening preventers have a high dose of radiation and people are urged not to touch or approach the rods if found.

Updated 13.13pm

THE GARDAÍ HAVE issued an appeal after radioactive material was stolen during the course of burglary in Swords in Dublin over the weekend.

The radioactive material taken is described as seven lightning preventers which were contained in a red metal box. The red box has radiation warning signs, a  yellow triangle with a black trefoil symbol.

They were stored under lock and key and were scheduled to be recycled in Germany.

They have the appearance of aluminium or stainless steel but the gardaí state they have “no scrap value”.


The gardaí said the lightening preventers are “highly dangerous” and should not be touched. They said that if someone comes across the material they should not approach it.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland said ”if handled they will cause radioactive contamination to the person’s hands and clothing with the possibly of internal radioactive contamination. Close proximity to these sources will result in a person exceeding the annual radiation dose limit in a matter of hours”.

If the radioactive sources are cut up or dismantled they could cause local environmental contamination as well as contamination of the person.

Speaking to David Dawson from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland said the metal rods “may just look like scrap metal, but on that metal are tiny black squares which are highly radioactive”.

He added:

This material has a very high dose of radiation and is extremely hazardous to the health of anyone who comes into contact with them.

He added that it was clear from the robbery that these items were stolen by someone unaware of what they were.

“They have no value,” said Mr Dawson, adding “anyone who comes into contact with this material will have to seek immediate medical attention”.  He said:

It is extremely urgent that we get these returned.

Dr Ann McGarry, Chief Executive of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland said:

I would also appeal directly to the people who have stolen these. They may have no idea what it is that they have in their possession or they may have discarded them somewhere. If that is the case then I would ask them to contact us, so that we can recover the items as soon as possible.

If you are in possession of these radioactive sources then you should move to a safe distance of several meters and call the number below or the local garda station.

Here is another image of a lightening preventer:


If anyone has any information please contact Gardai at Swords 6664700 or any Garda Station or contact the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland on 01 2066913,01 269 7766.

Read: Sun, sand, surf and radiation in the shadow of Fukushima>

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