Northern Ireland news

Stolen ATMs abandoned after police chase

Police have recovered two ATMs after they were removed from a supermarket on Larne Link Road in Ballymena 

Thieves who stole two ATMS from a Tesco outlet in Co Antrim abandoned the machines following a police chase.

A digger was used to rip the machines from the wall of the supermarket on Larne Road Link in Ballymena early this morning.

The digger and a tractor attached to a trailer were found burnt out at the scene.

A police patrol spotted the machines being driven away in a pickup truck at around 3am and followed the thieves.

The truck and ATMs were later found abandoned on Woodside Road.

Police said the machines will now be examined by forensic experts.

The supermarket was sealed off this morning.

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PSNI Detective Chief Inspector David Henderson said the thieves managed to flee.

"It is likely that the digger and tractor involved were stolen however no reports of such machinery being stolen have been received as yet," he said.

"I want to reassure the public that we continue to do everything that we can to try stop these attacks and catch those responsible."

He said police were "actively patrolling" ATM sites around the clock.

"However, the reality is that these attacks are carried out across a wide geographical area and we cannot be present at every ATM location all of the time," he said.

"We really need the public to help us and report anything suspicious, as a number of people did in Ballymena this morning."

There has been a spate of ATM robberies in recent months.

So far this year, 10 cash machines have been stolen across Northern Ireland.

Last week, a digger was used to rip two machines from the wall of a Tesco outlet in Crumlin, Co Antrim.

Thieves also made an unsuccessful attempt to steal an ATM from a Costcutter shop in Craigavon.

Earlier this month, a cash machine was ripped from the wall of a petrol station in Dungiven, Co Tyrone.

A specialist PSNI taskforce group has been set up to tackle the crisis but police have said it is difficult to keep track of every machine.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said the robbery was "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 repeat our call to building contractors to review the security of their sites and to immobilise their diggers when not in use.

“The general public needs to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police. 

"If you see a digger moving in the middle of the night do not hesitate - ring 999.

“It is a very telling statistic that we now have twice as many ATM robberies in the past four months compared to previous period of four years.”

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