Gardaí used one of their own private cars to chase a gang who broke into a betting shop early this morning after the tyres had been slashed in the local patrol cars.

Investigators believe that the tyres were slashed on four garda cars outside the station in Cashel to ease the getaway of a gang who burgled the nearby BoyleSports premises minutes later.

The incidents unfolded between about 3.20am and 3.35am in Cashel, when a gang of up to five men travelling in a dark-coloured saloon car and wearing masks or balaclavas broke into the BoyleSports shop on the town's Friar Street.

However, the alarm was quickly raised and it is understood the raiders were disturbed while trying to remove a safe from the premises and fled the scene.

Gardaí from the station used a private car belonging to one of their own members to give chase to the gang’s car. It is believed the raiders did not manage to get anything in the betting shop.

Gardaí pursued the gang north for some distance on the M8, heading in the direction of Dublin, before the getaway car turned off the motorway at junction 7 and onto other roads and headed south again, where it managed to lose the gardaí.

Gardaí are confident that the tyre-slashing incident and the burglary at the bookmakers are linked.

"They were trying to thwart the efforts of the gardaí," said one officer familiar with the investigation.

Forensic examinations of both scenes of crime were carried out by members of the local technical bureau this morning and gardaí have been examining CCTV footage from businesses in the town centre as well as carrying out door-to-door inquiries as they attempt to piece together what happened.

No arrests have been made.

Anyone with information or who noticed anything suspicious in the area has been asked to contact the station in Cashel on 06275840.