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€40,000 worth of equipment stolen in Westport

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EASILY SPOTTED This was the truck stolen from PJ Kelly's on Sunday night. The company circulated the picture on social media in an effort to trace its whereabouts.

Tools taken from Westport Utd grounds, north Mayo criminal gang suspected

Anton McNulty

A MAYO-based criminal gang is believed to have been involved in the theft of €40,000 worth of tools and equipment stolen from two containers stored on the grounds of Westport United. One of the containers was owned by the football club, the other was owned by the South West Development Company (SWMDC).
The stolen goods include a number of Kubota ride-on lawnmowers, several push lawnmowers, up to ten strimmers, as well as angle grinders, con-saws, a generator and numerous other tools and equipment. Two SWMDC trailers that were parked in between the containers were also taken. .
The thefts were reported on Monday morning when members of the Rural Social Scheme reported for work and noticed that everything, bar two brushes and a shovel, had been taken.
The Gardaí believe that the theft from the two containers may be connected to the theft of a 2012-registered white Isuzu pick-up truck that was stolen from the PJ Kelly’s Hardware yard in Westport Industrial Estate over the weekend. This type of pick up is rare in this country and only recently had been imported from overseas. The industrial estate is located on the Newport Road, close to the Westport Utd grounds.
The majority of the equipment that was stolen was owned by the SWMDC, which used the container as a lock-up for local Rural Social Scheme tools.

Bofeenaun discovery
A trailer containing one of the ride-on mowers believed to have been stolen in Westport was discovered by a member of the public near the north Mayo village of Bofeenaun yesterday morning (Monday) at around 11am. The Mayo News understands that a criminal gang based in north Mayo are the prime suspects for the theft, and the Gardaí are appealing to members of the public for their assistance in locating the tools.
The theft was reported by Noel Mulroy, the supervisor for the RSS in Westport. Speaking to  The Mayo News, he said that it was ‘heart-wrenching’ to see the lock-up totally cleaned out.
“The two containers were beside each other, and the trailers were in between them, and our van was parked up in front of them. The first I noticed something was wrong was when I arrived this morning [Monday] and I saw that the van had been moved. They had smashed the window to move the van, and broken the locks on the two containers. Everything was cleaned out bar two brushes and a shovel. There must have been in excess of €30,000 of equipment in our [the SWMDC] container. It was fairly heart-wrenching to see everything gone,” he said.
‘Big blow’
Mr Mulroy explained that the RSS carries out work for Tidy Towns committees in Westport, Muranny and Newport, and that its workers also look after the maintenance of the Greenway and local cemeteries. He said that if the equipment is not recovered, it could take three to four years to get the funding to replace what was stolen.
“It will be a big blow to all the community groups, the Tidy Towns, the GAA and the sporting clubs who rely on us to carry out work for them. We had a lot of equipment built up over the years and were one of the best-equipped schemes around – and overnight we have gone from that to having nothing.”
Noel explained that all the SWMDC equipment had been marked with ‘RSS 7’ in permanent ink. He asked people to be vigilant and check their property, as he believes they may have been stored somewhere shortly after the theft.
The Gardaí are appealing to the public not to buy anything suspect, and to contact them if offered any tools at reduced prices.

Allergan site hit
Gardaí are also investigating the theft of up to €10,000 worth of tools from a construction site at the Allergen plant in Westport over the weekend of November 24/25. The items stolen included a cement mixer, a bolt cutters and grinders but at the moment there is no evidence to suggest the two crimes are linked.
Anyone with any information about any of the thefts is asked to contact Westport Garda Station on 098 50230.

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