Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cross-border thief gang targets churches

A gang of thieves from Northern Ireland is suspected of involvement in robberies from churches and presbyteries across the border in County Louth.

In one of a series of thefts, a candelabra valued at €2,000 was stolen from St Oliver Plunkett’s Church in Blackrock and two more were damaged at St Fursey's Church in a bid to remove the coin donations from them.

The perpetrators also broke into the adjacent Haggardstown presbytery, but left without taking anything.

The incidents follow similar incidents in the last month at Kilkerley Church, where cash was stolen from two shrines.

A planned break-in across the Northern Ireland border at Dromintee, Co. Armagh, was abandoned by a gang when they saw a parishioner noting their car registration number.

Louth parish priest Fr Oliver Brennan asked for parishioners to be vigilant and report suspicious activity at any church property to police.

He said it was “amazing” that robbers could steal the candelabra in full daylight without arousing suspicions.

Other disturbing incidents occurred in churches in County Meath in the last few weeks.

Attempts were made to steal offertory boxes from churches in Kilskyre and Ballinlough and while the intruders were unsuccessful in attempting to remove them, damage was caused to the walls.

A separate report was made of a man seen acting suspiciously at Ballivor Church but no damage was found but in a fourth church – this time in Kildalkey – where a man was also seen acting suspiciously, €90 was taken.

Elsewhere in the country Naas parish priest Fr Thomas McDonnell disturbed two burglars who ransacked his parochial house and stole a sum of money last weekend.

Fr McDonnell came home to see the culprits making their getaway.

Describing his unwelcome guests as a stockily-built man with an English accent and a skinny one with short black hair, the priest said nobody was in the house at the time of the burglary.

"They got into the house when I was out. I came back in and they were in the house, and then they ran out the door beside me" he said.
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(Source: CI)

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