Gardaí search scrap yards for missing copper cables

'Operation Moselle' aims to tackle cable thefts

Gardaí carried out a number of raids last week at waste and recycling properties across the region in in connection with the theft of telephone cable in recent months.

The Celt can reveal that the cross-border and multi-agency operation, carried out under the codename 'Operation Moselle', saw searches carried out in Cavan and Monaghan as well as the Louth-Meath Garda division.

At the same time, a similar effort was being undertaken north of the Border by the PSNI.

In the last half year alone there have been close to 70 incidents of theft of cable nationwide, with the vast majority occurring in the North-East region.

Along with the monetary value of the copper stolen, which figures a high resale as scrap metal, hundreds of thousands of euros worth of damage has been caused by the thefts, not to mention the impact in terms telephone and internet service outages locally.

The ongoing investigation into the thefts is being led from an incident room set up at Carrickmacross Garda Station.

Along with searching for materials relating to the missing telephone cable, the raids also focused on finding potential information which could link back to the gangs behind the thefts.

The theft of cable to date has primarily occurred in rural locations, with the Cavan-Monaghan-Meath border among the worst hit. It is estimated more than 12 kilometres of telecommunications cables and copper wires have been stolen, leading to more than 1,500 households having their phone and internet services disrupted as a result.

The searches were carried out last Thursday.

In a statement issued today, An Garda Siochana confirmed that working as part of the Joint Agency Task Force (JATF), a number of operations took place along border counties with the aim of tackling rural crime.

The high visibility operation involved close co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI they add.

Searches targeting organised crime were conducted in the Sligo and Leitrim division, which resulted in the recovery of suspected heroin valued in excess of €61,000 at a location in Sligo.

A further €7,700 in cocaine and cannabis was later found at a premises in Sligo town.

Gardaí along with officials from Cavan and Monaghan County Councils Waste Enforcement Departments, meanwhile conducted a number of coordinated inspections at licensed scrap yards, car dismantlers and waste management facilities.

Alongside this, six vehicles were seized under road traffic offences, where detections were made in respect of driving licence/insurance related offences and a number of fixed charge notices were issued.

Customs officials, along with Gardaí in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth also made seven detections in respect of marked mineral oil.

They further discovered 1,000 litres of smuggled kerosene and also seized a vehicle for tax offences.

An operation by the Garda Dog Unit in the Dundalk District led to a man being arrested in respect of drug offences with €3,710 in cash seized and €1,600 of combined drugs.

In Donegal, the District Drugs Unit supported by Customs recovered a quantity of suspected to be cocaine and cannabis following a search of a property in the Buncrana district.

Gardaí in Letterkenny focused on street dealing in the town with a number of detections made in respect of possession of illegal drugs for personal use.

Remarking on last Thursday’s operation, Detective Superintendent John O’Flaherty said: “An Garda Síochána is acutely aware that rural crime has the potential to cause serious harm to local communities if left unchecked. Together with our colleagues in the PSNI we are committed to taking a joint approach to protect and reassure communities on both sides of the border.”

He stated: “This operation forms part of our continued efforts to disrupt the movements and activities of persons intent on causing harm in our communities and works to reduce and prevent criminal activity in border areas.”