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Investigation after 'brazen thieves' carry out seventh ATM robbery using digger in Northern Ireland

There have been a number of similar thefts in recent months in Northern Ireland.

Updated Apr 1st 2019, 5:17 PM

DETECTIVES IN CO Antrim are investigating after an ATM machine was stolen from outside a shop in Ahoghill last night. 

Police received reports at around 3.25am that a digger was on fire outside a shop on Brook Street in the village and that an ATM had been ripped from the side of the building causing considerable damage.  

“We believe the digger was stolen from a site nearby,” Detective Sergeant Richard Thornton has said. 

This afternoon, police appealed to anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident including anyone who saw a silver-coloured ‘people carrier’ type vehicle in the area.

“Once again the public and business community have today learned of another ATM theft; of another business targeted by these brazen thieves who have struck at the heart of a rural community,” they said.

“As in all of these ATM thefts, the actions of these criminals have not only caused immediate financial harm to the business that was targeted, but they have understandably caused fear in the community and impacted upon a vital service many local people rely on.”

Police said the robberies meant locals had to travel long distances to find other ways to withdraw cash, adding that they also jeopardised the livelihoods of business-owners.

The reckless actions of these criminals are despicable and I want to assure the public our dedicated team of detectives working across Northern Ireland specifically focussing on this crime is actively working with the banking industry and retailers.

“I encourage those either using or storing heavy plant machinery such as diggers or telehandlers on sites, or facilities near commercial premises, to ensure that these machines are kept locked, secured and immobilised to prevent theft,” PSNI Detective Inspector David Henderson added. 

I would also encourage people who live close to businesses like filling stations and local shops to contact police immediately if they see any unusual activity or people in the area.

Local SDLP representative Eugene Reid has said the robbery “presents a bigger problem for rural communities than simply just inflicting criminal damage”.

“The actions of these criminals are threatening the future of banking in rural communities,” he said.

Last night’s theft follows a number of similar ATM thefts recently. 

Reid has said the SDLP will meet with retailers soon to explore security measures to deter ATM machine thefts. 

“I would appeal to the wider community to report any additional information they may have about last night’s ATM robbery to the PSNI.”

Retail Northern Ireland chief executive Glyn Roberts warned that if the gangs behind the robberies were not stopped, there was a risk that rural communities could lose local access to cash.

“They are attacking local family-owned small businesses which are the backbone of the rural economy, providing an invaluable service to the local community,” he said.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin and Stephen McDermott.

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