Northern Ireland news

Cross-border policing needed to catch ATM gangs says Sinn Féin MEP

The scene outside the bank in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan. Picture courtesy of RTÉ
Mairead Holland

CROSS-border policing must be used to stamp out ATM theft gangs, a Sinn Féin MEP has urged following the latest attack.

Matt Carthy was speaking in the wake of a robbery in Co Monaghan early yesterday morning.

Thieves used a digger to tear a cash machine from the wall of the AIB bank on Main Street in Castleblayney around 3am.

Gardaí said the cash machine was loaded onto a trailer before being towed away by a dark 4x4, which was seen travelling towards Co Armagh.

The theft came just two days after a cash machine was ripped from the wall of a shop in Ahoghill, Co Antrim.

An ATM was also stolen in Cavan earlier this year.

The PSNI said eight cash machines have been taken in seven incidents in Northern Ireland since January.

Matt Carthy said cross-border policing must be used to stamp out ATM theft gangs

Last month they announced the creation of a dedicated task force to investigate the thefts, following a surge in the number of machines stolen from rural areas.

Detective Chief Inspector David Henderson said police were "actively looking at there being several gangs involved".

Mr Carthy said the attacks on ATMs across the north and border region is "wholly unacceptable, not least because of the huge cost implications for small, local businesses and the disruption it causes communities".

"Cross-border policing efforts, supported by local communities and the construction industry, must be focussed on stamping out this gang or gangs," he said.

“It has become an almost daily news report in recent weeks that an ATM has been attacked and removed in the region. Local shop owners are now living in constant dread that their premises may be next.

"There are also fears among local communities that an innocent person could get caught up in one of these attacks and be injured or killed in the fallout."

The Midlands North-West MEP added: “The criminals involved in these attacks are clearly operating on a cross-border basis. ... As an immediate step, policing resources and personnel must be increased in these areas.

“There is a real concern among communities that these events will lead to the removal of ATM facilities from rural towns and villages, areas that have already had other services withdrawn. Such a move would have a detrimental effect on how people live and do business in these rural communities.

"Assurances must be provided by government and the banks that everything possible will be done to avoid such a scenario.”

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, has urged all businesses with external ATMs to be vigilant, especially if they are located near building sites with diggers.

He said: “If the criminal gangs behind these ATM robberies are not stopped there is a real danger many rural communities will lose local access to cash. They are attacking local, family-owned small businesses which are the backbone of the rural economy, providing an invaluable service to the local community.”

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