A LONDON GAA team was left temporarily “homeless” after thieves stole £6,000 and their personal belongings while they played a rival club.
To add insult to injury, the Shalloe Pearses squad were left to wait in the cold of a car park for nearly two hours while police responded to their emergency call.
“It’s the worst thing to have happened in my life,” said coach Kevin Murphy.
“Everything was taken, phones, wallets, house keys, contacts, work documents, Oyster cards, we were cleared out.
“We had to go down to the cash machine and take out £200 just to get players home on the Tube.
“We were left temporarily homeless; players that could go home had to do so in the same gear they were playing the match in.
“Some of these guys are just recently over and were stripped of everything; guys couldn’t go to work after because security cards they needed for sites etc were taken too.
“We’ve lost players and can’t even get in contact with many of them because their phones and numbers are gone. It’s been awful.”
At 8.45pm on July 3, club members returned to the bus after playing Tir Chonnaill Gaels in Greenford to find the vehicle had been broken into and all the gear bags taken.
Murphy said the decision had been made to lock players’ possessions on the bus following previous thefts at the grounds.
Brendan Vaughan, a well-known Irish photographer in the capital, also fell victim to theft in April after leaving his car in the Tir Chonaill Gaels car park.
He returned to discover that it had been broken into, enabling thieves to steal thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment from its boot.
Mr Vaughan told The Irish Post that “several” other thefts preceded his and that the police had not been helpful in trying to find those who stole from him.
“The police have still not even bothered picking up the CCTV footage,” he said.
“It is in a memory stick in the club. If they were trying to catch criminals, they would have that footage picked up.”
Stevie Keane, Tir Chonaill’s public relations officer, added: “Police do not seem to have any interest. Every time there is a theft they only come down maybe a week after it.”
He also added that the club had no control over the car park, which is council property.
Mr Keane also said that, following a series of thefts in the car park, the club has had to put up signs telling people not to leave valuables in their car and that there are suspicions that the thieves are “sitting and watching” for people who do leave their vehicles unattended.
The Met Police confirmed that they received a call at 9.30pm to report the latest theft but said officers did not arrive until after 11pm because the incident was not deemed an emergency.
A police spokesman said the mass theft will only be pursued if those affected want to “take it further.”
“They (the police) didn’t want to know,” said Murphy.
“It got very late, players were freezing and we had to try and get them into hotels and off home. We made the decision to lock the gear on the bus because we’d 25 down for the game and the dressing room we were using was very small.
“I’m 40 years with the club and this is the worst thing to have happened, we were left in an awful state.
“It’s not just the thousands of pounds that have been stolen but how much all these guys have been inconvenienced and some of them only new in town. We were cleaned out in every way and we will have to wait and see what happens to the club now.”
Murphy said he wanted to bring attention to the robbery because he doesn’t want any other club to “suffer the same fate.”