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Cheeky thieves put the lives of road users at risk as they robbed the gates from seven railway crossings in the North-West of Ireland.

Police are still searching for the gang who stole the 14 foot by five foot steel gates from crossings in Roscommon and Sligo.

The Dublin to Sligo line was left open at a series of junctions as a result of the thefts, believed to have taken place last weekend.

Transport chiefs have claimed that the daring robberies have endangered the lives of those who use the crossings in remote and rural areas near Boyle in Roscommon and Ballymote in Sligo.

Irish railways spokeswoman Jane Cregan said the theft was a serious and dangerous issue.

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“Obviously it`s a very serious matter to have a live railway with no barriers for pedestrians or livestock,” said Cregan.

“This is something that we are taking very seriously, and indeed the police are investigating it.

“It could have caused a very serious incident and we are just happy that nothing happened.

“The thieves would have needed a trailer because of the size of the gates, and the operation would have taken some planning.

“It would have been quite a big job to remove these gates.”

Police believe the thieves may have wanted the gates for their own use or may have targeted the steel in the gates to sell on as scrap metal.