A GARDA van was rammed and the Garda helicopter called in to search for perpetrators after an attempted copper robbery at McKeon stone was interrupted in the early hours of Friday morning.
The Gardai received reports of people operating machinery in the quarry in Threecastles at 2am on Friday morning. When they arrived to investigate the incident they left a Garda van and squad car parked outside a farmyard near the quarry. As they were approaching the quarry a jeep with its head lights switched off came careering through a closed gate, narrowly missing Gardai. A second six bar gate was blown open by the jeep in its attempt to escape before they rammed a Garda van. The thieves get away vehicle sustained significant damage from the second six bar farm gate it had rammed. With in 300 metres of the Garda van the jeep ground to a halt and was abandoned by the would be thieves.
The Gardai were unable to pursue the thieves by vehicle as the abandoned jeep was blocking the lane. They called the garda air support unit in to help locate the suspects. Despite the use of hi-tech thermal imaging machinery the Gardai were unable to apprehend the suspects.
This is the third time the McKeon stone has been targeted by thieves since the price of copper increased dramatically. According to the Managing Director of Mckeon stone, Niall Kavanagh, they had about 80,000 euro in copper stolen from their quarry. “It has happened three times before. We put in cameras, alarms and beefed up security since the last time.”
“It is a problem for the quarry industry. Copper wire was taken in Carlow and Portlaois recently. Its not just the cost but the disruption in causes, huge disruption, we employ 50 people and we export 80% of our products we can’t afford to be disrupted,” added Mr Kavanagh.
A spokesperson for the Gardai said that due to the price of metals going up the theft of copper has gone up. He stressed that Gardai were keeping an open mind about who carried out the attempted robbery at the quarry and called on anybody who had seen or heard anything suspicious to contact the Gardai.