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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 22 January, 2019
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Police believe same organised gang involved in over 15 burglaries across Northern Ireland

The PSNI said that the incidents had a similar modus operandi and that detectives believe the same gang may be involved.

File photo
File photo
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland are investigating a series of over 15 burglaries at shops and filling stations across the country that they believe may be connected.

The PSNI said that the incidents had a similar modus operandi and that detectives believe the same gang may be involved.

According to detective inspector Will Tate, the burglaries all follow very similar processes.

“In the reported incidents the criminals appear to follow a very similar process by targeting rural premises, breaking in and disabling security systems before using machinery to cut or break open internal ATMs,” he said.

The incidents are not limited to a particular geographic area and we are investigating possible links between incidents as far apart as Enniskillen and Larne.

Tate said that police enquiries suggest that an organised criminal gang is responsible for many of the incidents and that the force was working hard to identify the perpetrators.

“We are also keen to help prevent further incidents at other rural businesses and we would encourage retailers to take some steps to minimise risk,” he said.

Tate also offered guidlines for businesses in case they are targeted.

“Firstly we would encourage shop owners to try to limit the amount of cash stored on the premises or in the ATMs,” he said.

“Leave the tills empty and open. If the instore ATM has a self-fill option, please consider a managed machine or the use of a cash security company instead.

Think about using signs that clearly state that there is minimal cash on premises/limited cash in tills/ATMS out of hours etc., and ensure that that is the case. It is also advisable to only fill the ATMs just prior to opening and never to do so in front of customers or anyone else.

He told business owners to conduct a full security review of their premises.

“If you would like some advice from a PSNI Crime Prevention Officer, this can be arranged by calling 101,” he said.

“Finally investigators would encourage people who live close to rurally located businesses like filling stations and local shops, and who notice any unusual activity or people, to please bring that to the attention of police.

If you hear machinery at odd hours of the night or early morning or notice people or vehicles appearing to pay attention to the premises, please let us know by calling police on 101. In an emergency or if you suspect a crime is in progress, via 999.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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