A family run chain of stores in South-East Clare have been victims to a sustained series of robberies by a “professional” outfit.
Crowe’s Grocery and Bakery at the Ministers Cross in Bunratty experienced eleven robberies from October to March of this year while already this month there have been two robberies with an additional one at their Quin store.
Up until September of this year, 223 thefts from shops in Clare have been reported to Gardaí in the county. It represents a twelve percent reduction on figures from the same time period in 2019.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Tim Crowe outlined his belief that the proximity of their stores to and from the motorway is adding to the problem. “They are so professional, they come with their balaclavas and gloves on, everything is pre-arranged, they change their number plates, these aren’t petty criminals, they are serious criminals, they are occupational and this is their job, they identify shops that they can break into that particular night. The last time they did the Minister’s Cross was done, they did two of my friends, one in Newport and one in Monard in the space of an hour and a half.
“They have a high-powered car, they use the motorways, Quin is very easy to get on the motorway from, the Minister’s Cross is very easy to get on the motorway from. They are pretty well-organised, the way they can destroy the inside of a shop in six or seven minutes is incredible, they have the place cased and they know where to go”.
Similarities in the appearance of the individuals carrying out the robberies are visible by the CCTV footage. “The CCTV footage would suggest there to be a lot of similarities in the gangs that are operating this, proving it is the most difficult job. I know people will say up your security but the security we have in the Quin shop is as good as you would get anywhere but just what they did in six minutes was incredible. It’s part and parcel of business, you can’t become paranoid about it, it is very demoralising when you see your shop absolutely destroyed with broken glass and doors, cigarettes and cash being taken but you have to accept it. The difficulty is the insurance is like a flood, they might cover it once or twice but after that you are on your own”.
Communities have also felt the impact of the robberies, Tim highlighted. “In Quin they went after the ATM but failed to get into it, they did put it out of service and the people of Quin are suffering as a result of that, it’s going to be a process to get it replaced and back up in action”.
Crowe is of the view that neither themselves nor the Gardaí can do more to combat the frustrating reoccurrences. “The Gardaí can’t spend every evening outside every shop in Clare waiting for the robbers to arrive, all they can do is react when it is after occurring”. He added, “When they do get criminals, they spend such little time in prison that it is frustrating for the Gardaí as well, they know the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Until we give them an appropriate time in prison it will be an ongoing problem, there is an incentive for the criminals to continue”.
“We would have been very happy with the security systems in place but when these guys decide to come, these aren’t the guys that would just rob a bar of chocolate, they are professionals, they are highly organised with everything planned to a tee, it is so disappointing and disillusioning to be in business and know you have to keep reinvesting, repairing and upgrading but it is another part of business, it is a fact of life,” Tim concluded