Brave Una (93) back behind store counter as gardaí steps up hunt for ruthless burglar gangs

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Gardaí believe a gang that held an elderly woman (93) and her two sons hostage during a violent home invasion had traveled to the area to target the family.

he Irish Independent learned that an important line in the garda investigation is that the suspects are not from the Co Roscommon area.

Gardaí has ​​yet to make any arrests in connection with the aggravated burglary or identify the gang members.

However, they believe the gang used the highway network to travel to the rural area and target this family.

An investigation is carried out by detectives based at Castlerea garda station who continue to request information on the case.

“There is no indication so far that this crime was a local job. The main belief is that this gang traveled to Ballintober to target this elderly business family,” a senior source said.

“The modus operandi of the gang and the considerable time the gang spent at the property on Monday morning indicates that they were an organized gang not from Co Roscommon or even neighboring counties so they may -be used the road network for travel in the west of Ireland,” the source added.

It comes as Una Farrell, the 93-year-old woman at the center of the burglary, told how she was locked in a room while the masked men tied up her two sons, aged in their 60s, and ransacked her house, attached to the family shop.

The four men escaped with a small amount of cash in the early hours of Monday, leaving the Farrells deeply traumatized.

Una and her family have served the community of Ballintober, Co Roscommon, in their small local shop on the outskirts of town for the past 61 years.

And yesterday, determined not to let “these four thugs” get the better of her, Una reopened the family shop.

Smiling, calm and unwavering, Una told the Irish Independent she was keen to bring out her best team and that the four men were not going to win.

“They got what they came for and they’re gone now, and I’m still here,” she said. “They’re not taking over us.

“We opened this morning and we hope people will come back to us now. We’ve been here 61 years, and we’ll be here for a long time.

Una said she couldn’t understand why someone would break into someone else’s house, terrorize it and wreak havoc.

“I don’t know. What can you say about people like that?” she said. “They were four thugs. They are traumatic people. They took the phones off the wall, but my sons still have their phones.

“We are OK, given, and we will be OK. We have to get on it now. You have to keep the doors open. »

Una thinks the looters were watching the place before breaking in.

“They had to keep an eye on the place,” she said. “I don’t know what makes people like that. They got what they came for, but we’ll move on.

Local councilor Anthony Waldron said tougher penalties were needed to deter burglary gangs.

“They are not afraid. They don’t care about the harm they do to people,” he said.

“They could have a list of convictions as long as your arm, and then they’re as free as birds.

“They have no respect for society and more needs to be done to get these people out of circulation.

“When we had local ranger stations, the gardaí knew what was going on in areas like Ballintober.

“Everyone is furious that this happened to the Farrell family. They are the heart of the community here.

“People love this store – they sell everything from needlework to anchor. They open early in the morning and close late at night.

“In the past, entire families survived by having a book behind the counter. They have rendered great service to generations. They are hard working people who are highly respected in this community.

“The people who did this must be brought to justice. Someone must have seen something unusual. We don’t want this to become just another statistic.

“We want to see real action taken, and we want to see lawmakers get serious.”

Fianna Fáil local councilor Paschal Fitzmaurice said it was a “heinous crime” which had disgusted the local community.

“These people were attacked in their homes, and these burglars came to try to extort money from them, and whatever else, from their business premises,” he said. “People are shocked and saddened by what happened.”

Mr Fitzmaurice said the local community was scared after the incident.

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