ATM ripped from Co Antrim shop with stolen digger
An ATM machine has been ripped from a shop in Co Antrim with a stolen digger - the 12th such theft in the last six months.
The cash machine was taken from a shop in the village of Ahoghill, causing severe damage to the building.
Police said they received a report around 3.25am today that a digger was on fire outside the shop on Brook Street.
Disgusted to learn an Ahoghill ATM has been the latest target. With years of reducing PSNI resources in rural villages criminals gangs are now freely ripping out ATMs in the dead of night. Once again it’s the local people & businesses who will be disadvantaged by these thugs. pic.twitter.com/AxP0UDJPtn— Cllr Timothy Gaston (@CllrGaston) April 1, 2019
The digger is understood to have been stolen from a nearby building site.
Police appealed to anyone who saw a silver people carrier in the area or who noticed any suspicious activity in Ahoghill over the last few days to contact them.
The PSNI has set up a task force aimed at tackling a rise in ATM thefts.
There have been 12 ATM robberies in Northern Ireland in the last six months - seven of which have been carried out this year alone.
It is believed the robbery of an ATM in Co Cavan last month was also carried out by the same gang.
PSNI Detective Inspector Richard Thornton urged businesses to review their security measures.
“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," he said.
“More generally, 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. For example, if you hear machinery late at night or in the early hours please let us know.
“Report any power outages close to commercial premises during the hours of darkness via 101. Also, if you see people or vehicles appearing to pay particular attention to certain premises, call police on 101. In an emergency or if you suspect a crime is in progress, dial 999."
Sinn Féin councillor Patrice Hardy said ATM thefts are an attack on rural areas.
"Small local businesses such as this provide a vital service in rural communities but their sustainability is threatened by robberies of this nature," she said.
"I would urge anyone with any information to bring it forward to the PSNI to help catch those responsible."
Last month, the head of Retail NI said small business owners are considering removing ATM machines from their premises following a spate of robberies at rural premises.
Glyn Roberts said: "What will happen, and is already happening, is that our members will start to withdraw the machines and that will have a detrimental impact, especially in rural communities."