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Dublin: 7°C Saturday 16 January 2021

Community in fear as Waterford crime spree sees cars stolen, homes burgled and buildings set on fire

One TD said, ‘This is the work of a criminal gang and the gardaí have to step up to the plate or it’s a sorry state for Waterford’.

Image: Zara King via Twitter

WATERFORD CAME INTO the spotlight this week after a crime spree – believed to be carried out by a small group of people – instilled both anger and fear into the community.

Ballybeg was targeted on Monday night – with damage being carried out from 6pm that evening until the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It started with a house fire at Ardmore Park, Ballybeg. It was the second time in a week that this house was set on fire.

The second target was the Kilbarry Community Centre. The place was pulled apart and CCTV cameras were ripped off the walls – that happened between 10:30 – 11:30pm.

At midnight a car was stolen from Ballybeg Square and at 2am a house was burgled at Priory Lawn, Ballybeg.

At around 3am a fire was started at St Saviours boxing club – causing €60,000 worth of damage.

And finally at around 5.20am a car parked in a driveway at Johns Hill in Waterford City was gutted by fire. Gardai also discovered that the lock in the front door had been glued.

Two men were arrested in connection with the arson attack at St Saviours boxing club, a 25-year-old man and a juvenile.

While just days before that the local family Youth Resource Centre was burned down and a fire was started at St Saviour’s GAA club.

Both these fires took place on Friday night- on Saturday morning the club posted this message on it’s Facebook page saying:

“We’ve suffered many a painful defeat on the field of play over the years but it doesn’t come close to the devastation we all feel this morning after last nights events.

We are very proud of our facilities, put together over a long number of years through the blood, sweat and tears of our members and to see the clubhouse destroyed in one night is heartbreaking.

Local Independent TD John Halligan told TheJournal.ie that it’s widely believed that a group of young men from Waterford are carrying out the attacks.

“In essence it’s an attack on the fabric of a community. It’s an attack on Waterford families – those facilities are used by people throughout the county.

This is the work of a criminal gang and the gardaí have to step up to the plate or it’s a sorry state for Waterford.

Superintendent Chris Delaney told TheJournal.ie that up to five people have been arrested in connection with general public disorder issues. He added that garda operations are still ongoing.

Halligan added, “People are saying they want to take it into their own hands but the gardai are our only resource.

I know people in the community have information but are too afraid to come forward. If these guys think they can get away with it – what will be next?

“We are inundated with e-mails from people. There’s a wicked anger in the community but there’s also fear.

“A lot of people put a lot of effort and time into this community but like anywhere else there are also a few bad apples.”

Waterford based Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane said, “What has happened represents a direct challenge to the community from thugs and criminals. We need to respond accordingly and in a united way.”

Gardaí thanked those who gave them information to date and appealed to anyone else with any information to come forward.

They can be contacted on (051) 305 300 or the confidential line on 1800 666 111.

Read: GAA club vows to rebuild ‘brick-by-brick’ after suspected arson attacks in Waterford>

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