(LIMERICK, IRELAND) – A member of a burglary gang – who used cars, loaded with concrete blocks, to smash into retail stores – has been jailed at Limerick Circuit Court for five and a half years.
Aurimas Petraska, a senior member of the Lithuanian burglary gang was a key cog in the gang’s operations, the court was told.
Petraska and others “dressed in army fatigues and balaclavas” and “executed the job with military precision”, judge Tom O’Donnell said. They were in and out of each premises in six minutes, he added.
“They were highly sophisticated,” added prosecuting SC Michael Collins.
Petraska transformed cheap cars into missiles, capable of smashing through secure premises. He purchased the vehicles on second-hand car sale websites before spray-painting the windows and replacing the car seats with concrete blocks. This, the court heard, ensured the cars were heavy enough to mount footpaths and crash through shopfronts.
Handing down sentence, Judge O’Donnell said Aurimas, a father of one, had steered a “professional job”. He said “it was premeditated and planned to the last detail”.
He commended gardaí – led by Cork Detective Inspector Joe Moore, Det Garda Michael Brosnan and Det Garda Ailish Murphy – for their “painstaking” investigative skills in tracking the gang over a two-year period.
Targeting the remaining gang members remains a priority for gardaí, the court heard. “There are several dimensions to the garda investigation, including local gardaí, national units, as well as (support) from Europol and Interpol, ” the judge said.
Previously, the court heard Aurimas was arrested when members of the armed garda Regional Support Unit (RSU) intercepted him in a car near Shanagolden, on June 29th, 2016.
During the course of the arrest, another man “accompanying” Petraska was shot in the face after a garda’s gun fired “accidentally”, said Mr Collins SC. The man spent several months in hospital to treat his serious injuries. Petraska did not disclose to gardaí the identify of his boss, however he told officers he was paid €2,000-€3,000 for each burglary.
Petraska, (32), with an address at Church Street, Rathkeale, pleaded guilty to a string of burglaries which involved the theft of €150,000 worth of women’s clothes, and Chanel beauty products.
During a raid at O’Briens Pharmacy, Cahir, Tipperary, €20,000 worth of Chanel products was stolen. In a burglary at O’Connor’s Pharmacy, Kinsale, Cork, €50,000 worth of Chanel products was taken, and €10,000 damage was caused. Petraska also admitted stealing €80,000 worth of high-end women’s clothes from Isobel Boutique, Adare Co Limerick.