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European crime gang suspected in spate of outboard engine thefts


CONCERNSCllr Paul McNamara

Anton McNulty

AN eastern European crime gang is suspected to be behind a spate of outboard engine thefts which occurred along the coast of Mayo in recent weeks.
In the early hours of last Wednesday morning, five outboard engines worth a total of approximately €30,000 were stolen off boats tied and moored at Cé Bheag in Cloughmore on Achill Island.
The thefts were just the latest in a spate of thefts which have taken place along the Mayo coast with similar thefts recorded near Belmullet, Murrisk and Rosmoney outside Westport in the last two weeks.
The Mayo News understands that Gardaí believe that the crimes were committed by an eastern European crime gang who are stealing their engines which will be later shipped out of Ireland and sold in their homeland.
“These are all professional jobs, there is no question about that,” a garda source told The Mayo News. “At the moment we suspect that they are is an eastern European crime gang who are targeting coastal areas and stealing outboard engines. There isn’t a local trade for selling on these engines so we don’t suspect local criminals are involved. But there is a trade in their [eastern European criminals] home countries and we suspect that this is where they will try to bring them.”
The thefts of the outboard engines in Achill took place on Wednesday, September 18 between 12 midnight and 3am which was low tide in the area. Two of the small crafts which had engines were moored away from the pier at the time and it is suspected the criminals waited until low tide to wade out to the boats. The other three boats were tied to the pier.

Local councillor Paul McNamara condemned the actions of those who carried out the crime and called for swift action to catch those responsible.
“There is no doubt that this was a planned operation and whoever did this knew exactly what they were doing and what they were looking for. It is a long way up to Cé Bheag and they did not just come across the engines by chance. I have spoke with the local gardaí and they assured me a full investigation was underway and hopefully they will catch the people responsible.
“It is concerning to think that those responsible were driving around the area during the day and observing where the boats and the engines were located. We have an elderly population here on Achill many of whom live alone and this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable. The message needs to go out that these actions will not be tolerated in rural communities.
“These engines all belonged to local people who used them for fishing and going in and out to Achill Beg. Now they are left a couple of thousand euro out of pocket and this will affect their livelihoods. Whoever did this needs to be caught and hopefully deter others who might think of targeting rural communities,” he said.
CCTV cameras are located at the entrance to Achill Island at the Garda Station and they are being studied to see if those responsible can be identified. Anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in Achill area around the time of the thefts is asked to contact Achill Sound or Westport Garda Stations.