CAB tar­gets your lo­cal crime gang

The as­set-seiz­ing agency has trav­elled the coun­try, urg­ing peo­ple to shop crim­i­nals in their ar­eas, says Maeve Shee­han

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Front Page - Maeve Shee­han

THE Crim­i­nal As­sets Bureau (CAB) has iden­ti­fied hun­dreds of small-time crim­i­nals and ru­ral crime gangs in every county.

The CAB’s na­tional clam­p­down on il­licit wealth flaunted by crim­i­nals fol­lows a na­tion­wide cam­paign urg­ing com­mu­ni­ties to in­form on in­di­vid­u­als who are liv­ing the high life with­out any vis­i­ble means of sup­port.

Now CAB of­fi­cers have drawn up a de­tailed list of sus­pects, from four sus­pected crim­i­nals in Mayo, be­lieved to have car­ried out a spate of rob­beries in the re­gion, to 40 sus­pects in Wexford, where Dublin gang­sters keep holiday homes.

The ini­tia­tive was launched in re­sponse to de­mands for “mini-CABs” in com­mu­ni­ties across Ire­land — bol­stered by the agency’s new pow­ers to seize as­sets worth €5,000.

There are also new tar­gets in re­gions hit by farm thefts, such as Tip­per­ary, where the as­sets of 29 sus­pects are now un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There are also 20 sus­pects in the Car­low/Kilkenny Garda divi­sion.

Lim­er­ick has the high­est num­ber of CAB tar­gets out­side of Dublin, with the homes, cars and as­sets of 73 sus­pected crim­i­nals un­der scru­tiny.

An­other 30 sus­pects have been pin­pointed in the com­bined area cov­er­ing Cork City, West Cork and Cork North.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Pat Clavin, who heads the CAB, em­barked on a tour of Garda divi­sions, ad­dress­ing 35 lo­cal author­ity Joint Polic­ing Com­mit­tees and armed with a glossy brochure out­lin­ing the new ini­tia­tive.

“Your neigh­bour drives an ex­pen­sive car, spends lots of money on home im­prove­ments and can af­ford to give their fam­ily the most ex­pen­sive gifts.

“Money is no ob­ject, yet they never ap­pear to work. Con­tact the CAB to­day so we can make them pay and take it away,” the CAB states.

THE Crim­i­nal As­sets Bureau has drawn up a hit-list of small-town crooks and ru­ral crime gangs in coun­ties across Ire­land fol­low­ing a na­tion­wide cam­paign urg­ing com­mu­ni­ties to shop their lo­cal crim­i­nals.

The as­sets-seiz­ing agency is more usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with tar­get­ing ma­jor or­gan­ised crime gangs such as the Kinahan car­tel. But fol­low­ing a 12-month tour of each Garda divi­sion, the Crim­i­nal As­sets Bureau (CAB) has gen­er­ated tar­gets in every county and searches in sev­eral.

They in­clude four sus­pects in Mayo who are thought to be be­hind a spate of bur­glar­ies in the county.

There are also new tar­gets in re­gions hit by farm thefts, such as Tip­per­ary, where the as­sets of 29 sus­pects are now un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and 20 sus­pects in the Car­low/Kilkenny Garda divi­sion.

Lim­er­ick has the high­est num­ber of CAB tar­gets out­side of Dublin, with the homes, cars and as­sets of 73 sus­pected crim­i­nals un­der scru­tiny of the agency.

Wexford has also yielded a high num­ber of tar­gets, given the size of the county. The CAB is look­ing at 40 sus­pects here com­pared with the 30 sus­pects in the com­bined Garda divi­sions of Cork City, West Cork and Cork North.

The CAB zoned in on lower-rung street deal­ers and house bur­glars in re­sponse to de­mands from com­mu­nity groups in Dublin’s in­ner city and in ru­ral area for “mini-CABS” to tar­get the crim­i­nals and drug deal­ers liv­ing among them.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Pat Clavin, who heads the Bureau, em­barked on a tour of Garda divi­sions this time last year, ad­dress­ing 35 lo­cal author­ity Joint Polic­ing Com­mit­tees in each divi­sion on the work of the CAB, armed with a glossy brochure bluntly invit­ing com­mu­ni­ties to de­liver up sus­pects.

“Your neigh­bour drives an ex­pen­sive car, spends lots of money on home im­prove­ments and can af­ford to give their fam­ily the most ex­pen­sive gifts. Money is no ob­ject, yet they never ap­pear to work.

“It is com­monly sus­pected that they are in­volved in mak­ing false per­sonal in­jury claims, falsely claim­ing so­cial wel­fare pay­ments, and boast­ing about never hav­ing paid tax,” the brochure said. “Con­tact the CAB to­day so we can make them pay and take it away.”

Chief Supt Clavin has one out­stand­ing Joint Polic­ing Com­mit­tee left to visit in Tul­lam­ore, Co Of­faly, to which he is sched­uled to speak next month but is ef­fec­tively at the end of the process.

The re­sult is that the tar­get list that stood at 600 in 2016 is now stands at 934, with 475 of those tar­gets based in coun­ties out­side Dublin.

Ac­cord­ing to Chief Supt Clavin, the in­crease is in part due to calls com­ing in from mem­bers of the pub­lic.

The num­ber of tar­gets in Wexford stood at 33 in May, when he ad­dressed the county’s Joint Polic­ing Com­mit­tee meet­ing and now stands at 40.

The CAB has also stepped up its fo­cus on bur­glars. The num­bers of sus­pected thieves and fraud­sters tar­geted for tax as­sess­ments in­creased from 11 last year to 19 so far this year, who are fac­ing po­ten­tial tax bills of €5.8m.

“Out­side the M50 there is a whole other world,” said Chief Supt Clavin. “Peo­ple are con­cerned about ru­ral bur­glar­ies be­cause they per­ceive them­selves to be at risk. The Byrnes [or­gan­ised crime gang] and the Ki­na­hans are in a world far re­moved from them. But they are afraid of the ma­raud­ing bur­glary and rob­bery gangs, be­cause they feel that they are a real threat.”

While the big or­gan­ised crime gangs may hog the head­lines, he said, the harm caused to com­mu­ni­ties by lo­cal crime is “huge”.

Fear is a big fac­tor, he says. Even for those who have never been bur­gled, the fear of crime can be just as paralysing, as can the fear of in­tim­i­da­tion.

“Crim­i­nals like to live in their own com­mu­ni­ties,” he said. “They can show off in their own com­mu­ni­ties. There’s no point in them liv­ing in Foxrock, where ev­ery­one drives around in their ex­pen­sive SUVs. They have an im­pact in their own com­mu­ni­ties. They know that they can ex­ert sub­tle in­tim­i­da­tion on lo­cal peo­ple.”

In­tim­i­da­tion of fam­i­lies was a re­cur­ring theme in the CAB’s tour. It was raised with Chief Supt Clavin in Car­low last month by Fianna Fail Se­na­tor Jen­nifer Mur­nane O’Con­nor, who said that fam­i­lies in the town “have had to pay out money be­cause their chil­dren have got in with a bad crowd, they have been threat­ened and things have hap­pened, and then the fam­i­lies are hav­ing to pay out money. Yet the peo­ple who are sell­ing the drugs seem to be get­ting away with it”.

It was a sim­i­lar story in Laois, where the CAB has 14 tar­gets in its sights. Noel Tuo­hey, a Labour Party coun­cil­lor and a for­mer prison of­fi­cer who is on the Joint Polic­ing Com­mit­tee, said sev­eral fam­i­lies have come to him, in his ca­pac­ity as coun­cil­lor, in­clud­ing one mother whom he says took out a credit union loan on the pre­text of buy­ing a car but used the money to pay off crim­i­nals chas­ing her son for drugs debts.

“In most cases I’ve heard of, that is the first they knew their child was do­ing drugs, when they get into bother, they get in over their heads. He could have started off work­ing and af­ford to pay what he is us­ing. But then he is us­ing more.

“They give you a bit of lead, they give you a lit­tle bit of rope, and then sud­denly they call him back and in­stead of €200 he owes €2,000,” he said.

“It’s bril­liant that the CAB is go­ing af­ter them,” he said. “What they [fam­i­lies] should re­ally do is go to the po­lice but to be to­tally hon­est, I can un­der­stand how some of them wouldn’t.

“Th­ese are peo­ple’s sons, they have a child in trou­ble, that’s the way they see it. If they don’t get the money to­gether, that child could be badly beaten, or it could be an­other mem­ber of the fam­ily.”

Fol­low­ing a Govern­ment com­mit­ment to set­ting up “mini-CABs” in com­mu­ni­ties in its pol­icy pro­gramme, the Crim­i­nal As­sets Bureau is train­ing up 350 as­set pro­fil­ers in each Garda divi­sion.

Their pro­files of po­ten­tial lo­cal tar­gets are sent to the CAB head­quar­ters, where they are as­sessed for full in­ves­ti­ga­tion by one of six ded­i­cated teams.

The Govern­ment also low­ered the value of as­sets that the CAB is en­ti­tled to seize from a thresh­old of €13,000 to €5,000, which the CAB has now used in 11 Pro­ceeds of Crime ap­pli­ca­tions.

Fi­nan­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tions are time-con­sum­ing but there have been a num­ber of searches in sev­eral coun­ties, in­clud­ing Sligo, Tip­per­ary, Clare, Lim­er­ick and Done­gal.

One of the most sig­nif­i­cant op­er­a­tions has been taking place in Wexford where 13 mem­bers of the same crime gang were served with tax de­mands of around €4m.

The CAB has seized cash watches, jew­ellery, de­signer hand­bags, gar­den equip­ment, 65-inch tele­vi­sions, stor­age de­vices, mo­bile phones and elec­tronic equip­ment.

One of the things that sur­prised Chief Supt Clavin was how lit­tle peo­ple knew about the Crim­i­nal As­sets Bureau’s work or that its agents could be de­ployed in lo­cal ar­eas.

“Peo­ple don’t know a lot about CAB or that you can ring them up and ac­tu­ally speak to some­one in CAB. We ac­tively an­swer the phone,” he said. “There is a huge mis­per­cep­tion out there that we are work­ing only with the Ki­na­hans.

“Drugs, bur­glar­ies, rob­beries around the coun­try, farm thefts — we will take on crim­i­nal­ity in its widest sense.”

‘Crim­i­nals like to live in their com­mu­ni­ties, where they can show off’

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