Video: Stolen digger used to rip ATM from Danske Bank
A STOLEN digger was used to rip a cash machine from the wall of a bank in Co Antrim todayin the latest in a spate of ATM thefts.
Substantial damage was caused to the Danske Bank building on Mallusk Road in Newtownabbey as a result of the theft, which happened at about 3.10am.
It is the fifth ATM theft in Northern Ireland so far this year.
Asked whether the latest incident is believed to be linked to the others, a PSNI spokesman said: "Our investigation is in the early stages. We will follow all lines of enquiry."
Police said the digger in the latest theft is thought to have been stolen from a business a short distance away, and was set on fire at the scene immediately after the raid.
"Substantial damage was caused to the building as a result of the incident," detective chief inspector David Henderson said.
He urged anyone with information to phone police on 101 quoting reference 163 22/03/19, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, described the theft as "disgraceful".
"We would urge all businesses who have external ATMs to be vigilant, particularly if they are near building sites with diggers," he said.
"Retail NI would also urge building contractors to review the security of their sites."
He added: "The criminal gangs behind these attacks need to be caught and put in jail for a very long time.
"If the general public have any information about these attacks they should contact the PSNI."
SDLP councillor Thomas Burns condemned the ATM theft and urged anyone with information to contact the PSNI.
"This type of theft robs the entire community. Aside from the cash taken from the ATM, a local business has also had a digger stolen," he said.
"The impact extends far beyond the damage of the bank. It depletes the finances of local services and deters new business from investing in the area."
Police have set up a task force aimed at tackling the recent cash machine crime spree.
Earlier this month a cash machine was ripped from a filling station wall at Ballygawley Road, Dungannon in Co Tyrone.
In February, a digger was used to remove a cash machine from Glendale filling station on Killyclogher Road outside Omagh.
In the same month, two ATMs were stolen in one incident at an Asda supermarket at Junction One shopping complex, Antrim, and another from a filling station on Glenavy Road, near Moira.
There was also an attempted cash machine theft in January at a Spar store at Mountfield Road, near Killyclogher in Co Tyrone.
Last month police said they were investigating a possible link between recent cash machine thefts.