Northern Ireland news

Call for task force to tackle ATM thefts after third theft in two days

Forensic offers at the scene of an ATM theft near Moira, Co Antrim. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Paul Ainsworth

POLICE are being urged to set up a task force to tackle ATM thefts following the latest such crime in Co Antrim.

A digger was used to remove a cash machine from a service station on Glenavy Road near Moira shortly after 3am on Saturday.

The digger had been stolen from a nearby building site and was later set alight.

The roof of the garage was also set ablaze and extensively damaged before being put out by firefighters.

A PSNI spokesman confirmed that detectives were investigating a possible link with the theft of two ATMs from an Asda supermarket in Antrim in the early hours of Friday.

The machines were targeted at around 2am and the cash taken from the scene in a white Mitsubishi L200 that was stolen the previous evening in Ballyclare and later found burned out on Antrim's Tildarg Road.

Police have urged anyone with information to come forward.

The chief executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts, described the latest theft as a "disgraceful attack on one of our members".

"It is has caused extensive damage to a local retailer that provides an invaluable service to the local community," he said.

"With three ATM robberies in a matter of days, these attacks are now a major problem for local retailers.

"Retail NI will be seeking a an urgent meeting with PSNI senior officers to press for a task force to be established to tackle these criminal gangs.

"With so many bank branch closures in rural towns and villages in recent years, our members’ ATMs provide an invaluable service to their local communities.

“There is a real danger our members could start to remove these ATMs if these attacks continue."

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