Northern Ireland news

Diggers used in Crumlin and Craigavon ATM raids

A burnt-out digger sits in front of the Tesco store in Crumlin following the theft of two ATMs 

STOLEN diggers were used in the latest ATM machine raids in Northern Ireland –with two stolen in Co Antrim and an attempted robbery in Co Armagh.

Detectives last night said that the theft of two machines from a Tesco store in Crumlin was the tenth this year.

Two machines were ripped from the shop wall by a digger and placed into a pick-up truck at 2.30am yesterday. The digger was set alight blocking Main Street in the town, before at least three men made off.

Businesses were unable to open due to lack of access.

A Costcutter shop in Craigavon was also targeted at 3.45am but the raid was unsuccessful.

The culprits ran off from the scene, “leaving the ATM and telehandler behind”, according to police.

“They have now been recovered and examinations are being carried out.”

In the Republic, two cash machines containing substantial sums of money were also stolen in Kells, Co Meath yesterday morning.

While a specialist PSNI taskforce group was set up last month to tackle the crisis in the north, police have admitted the difficulties in keeping track of every machine.

“We want to reassure the public that we continue to do everything that we can to stop these attacks and catch those responsible,” Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Evans said.

“However, the reality is that these attacks are carried out in a range of geographical areas and we cannot monitor every ATM all of the time. We need the public to help us.

“Whilst we do not think these incidents are linked, stolen diggers were used in both attacks.

“This shows the importance of owners of heavy plant machinery ensuring that they do everything possible to secure and immobilise equipment. If the diggers cannot be stolen, these attacks cannot take place.”

SDLP councillor Thomas Burns said the community in Crumlin had been left “shocked and disappointed” by what had happened.

He said that in addition to access problems in Main Street, the leisure centre and recycling centre were also closed while buses could not get out of the depot to undertake journeys.

“It’s a very bad day for businesses,” he said.

Sinn Féin councillor Anne Marie Logue said the community in Crumlin had been left “devastated”.

“This is not only an act of wanton theft and destruction of property, it is an attack on the whole community who rely on the ATM services which are now no longer available to them,” she said.

DUP assembly member Carla Lockhart said the theft of the ATM in Craigavon was a “blow to the local community”.

The Upper Bann representative called for urgent action to place trackers on rural machines to deter further thefts.

“Whilst everyone understands the complexities in policing this recent spate there is an urgent need to ensure those responsible are brought to justice,” she said.

Speaking about the ATM thefts, Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Retail NI, said the “situation is now beyond critical” and that he had met with police to express their concerns.

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