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Criminal gang may be operating across north west

A SPATE of festive criminality has lead to a warning that a criminal gang may be operating across the north west.

Before and after Christmas criminals struck on at least four occasions in the Strabane district; this included a house burglary in Newtownstewart.

According to the PSNI this incident took place on December 27 at Dublin Street in the village. Officers are currently investigating and appealing for information.

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Just a day later on December 28 a significant oil theft was reported in Strabane.

“Folks, police are investigating the theft of a substantial amount of home heating oil in the Canal Side area of Strabane – approximately 1,300 litres,” s PSNI spokesperson relayed through social media.

“Please be vigilant and if you notice anything or anyone acting suspiciously do not hesitate to contact police. This amount of oil would require a vehicle to transport it.”
It was also reported to this newspaper that a family in the Ballycolman had 100 litres of oil stolen.

Furthermore, on December 30 a handbag was taken from a Chinese Restaurant in Strabane.

The PSNI spokesperson explained, “The theft occurred between 2am and 3am at The Wok Inn, Castle Street, Strabane. Around this time a pink and black handbag was stolen after its owner momentarily set it down. Inside was an iPhone 6s, a small amount of money, bank cards and a driving licence as well as some personal artefacts most notably a memorial card which obviously holds substantial sentimental value to its owner.

“We will obviously be checking the area for CCTV etc however are appealing for witnesses in relation to this incident.”

This week, prompted by the series of incidents, local councillor, Patsy Kelly has warned people to be on their guard.

“I wonder if this is a criminal gang or just opportunists,” Cllr Kelly said.

“The amount of oil stolen in one of those thefts shows that whoever was responsible came prepared. It wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. It’s possible this could have been a criminal gang.

“Everyone needs to be alert, especially at night and if they see a suspicious vehicle hanging around, contact police.”

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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