Police apologise after Co Armagh homes 'mistakenly raided' in ATM theft operation
POLICE have apologised after two properties in Co Armagh were mistakenly raided by detectives investigating the recent spate of ATM thefts.
The houses in Granemore, just outside Armagh city, and Silverbridge, which is close to Crossmaglen, were damaged in the operation on Monday morning.
One householder, whose property in Silverbridge was searched, posted details on Facebook of the incident.
He said he and his mother, a widow, "came home to a broken door due to a battering ram and the house turned upside down".
He said the search and warrant documentation left on the kitchen table was for a "completely different address in a completely different village".
He added: "My mother is extremely upset and feels like she isn't safe in her own home, which infuriates me and my siblings as she has done her absolute best to support and raise us in a safe environment.
"To know that 10 plus PSNI officers were in my family home looking through our documents and belongings for no reason is appalling."
In the second incident, police broke down several doors of a house on the Armaghbreague Road in Armagh before rummaging through the house.
Sinn Féin councillor Bróna Haughey said the family were “in a state of complete and utter shock" after the events.
She told Armaghi: “Police broke into their family home around 11am, breaking down two doors and sifting through their home and their private property.
“Sadly, this is not an isolated incident for this family as the police have been at their home five times since the beginning of the year, sometimes in the middle of the night.
“This is a case of mistaken address, but time and time again due to a breakdown in communication within the police force, the family are awoken in the middle of the night with police at their door.”
In a statement, Detective Inspector Keith Gawley said: “We regret the mistakes made and have apologised to the householders. We have also advised our officers of the matter in order to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.
“These searches were part of a wider operation carried out on Monday by Detectives from PSNI Organised Crime Unit investigating recent ATM thefts.
“It is very important that police are able to fight crime effectively and our aim is always to protect communities and make them safer. Thousands of searches are carried out every year within Northern Ireland which are vital in detecting crime and bringing people before the courts."
He added; “Unfortunately, whilst it is not our intention, damage to property can occur as a result of searches. Where appropriate, compensation will be paid to the householder where damage is caused to their property.”