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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Three post offices targeted in spate of raids over 12 hours

 

POST OFFICES were targeted in raids in Waterford, Kilkenny and north Dublin yesterday – one of which involved the kidnapping of a man and woman. The three incidents took place within 12 hours of each other and come on the back of a spate of thefts and attempted robberies at post offices which have been linked to organised crime gangs involved in the drugs trade. The worst of the incidents began on Tuesday night in Swords, Co Dublin, when three armed men forced their way into the home of an An Post worker employed at the Balbriggan branch. The female postmaster and her husband were held hostage by the gang for several hours at their home in St Andrew’s Park. The husband was then taken to another location yesterday morning while the woman was ordered to go to work as usual and withdraw a substantial sum of money and await instructions. The woman’s husband was left tied to a tree by the gang in a field off Kettles Lane in Swords, from which he managed to free himself shortly after 10am. At about the same time gardaí became aware of the incident and responded to a call from the post office, forcing the gang to abort their plans. Supt Kevin Gilligan said: “This was a very traumatic experience for the people taken hostage overnight and for post office staff in Balbriggan.” He appealed to anyone who may have witnessed suspicious activity at the three locations associated with this incident to contact gardaí. Gardaí were yesterday also investigating an armed raid on a post office in Kill, Co Waterford. Two men, one armed with what appeared to be a shotgun, entered the post office shortly after 11.30am when staff and a number of customers were present. The men escaped with an undisclosed sum of money in a black car in the direction of Carroll’s Cross. There were no injuries and no shots were discharged. Earlier in the day, a stolen JCB was used by raiders to smash a wall and steal a safe at a post office in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny. The vehicle was used to gain entry to the post office shortly after 6am. The safe stolen is understood to have been empty, however. Gardaí said the JCB had been stolen in Carlow overnight. He appealed to anyone who may have witnessed the vehicle being driven or transported to Castlecomer to contact them. A spokesman for An Post yesterday declined to discuss the incidents, saying they were a matter for gardaí. General secretary of the Irish Postmasters’ Union Brian McGann expressed his sympathies to the family involved in the Swords incident. “Unfortunately, postmasters and their staff face the threat of this type of attack every day in their working lives,” he said. The vast majority of raids on post offices were unsuccessful, as postmasters and their staff did not have access to cash and all safes were time-locked, he added. The union and An Post had worked together to develop and improve security at post offices, which he described as “robust”. He urged An Post staff to remain vigilant and to follow security protocols.

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