Owner's fury after gang uses stolen digger to steal ATM from filling station... just as thieves tried to do at same site six years ago
A shop owner has hit out after thieves raided a cash machine from his business for the second time in six years.
A four-man gang used a stolen digger to rip out the ATM from Gregory's filling station near Newry at 3.30am yesterday.
The thieves, who are believed to have stolen the digger from a building site, smashed into the wall, swiped the ATM and loaded it on to a trailer.
They then set the digger on fire and left it in the road.
Shop owner Simon Gregory said the cash machine had only been fitted seven months ago.
He added it was the second time in six years that ATM thieves had targeted his business.
"This is much worse than the last time in terms of damage," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"It is very frustrating. I've had to send the staff home for the day.
"We're left with no cash machine on site, which is also frustrating for the general public."
The businessman also told how it had taken years to get the machine, which was only filled two days ago, after the last raid.
"It took me six years to get a cash machine here," he said. "A company from England took us on, but I don't see them taking us on again. Who would?"
Police believe the digger used in the raid was taken from a nearby building site.
"It was stolen from a site about half a mile up the road," Mr Gregory said. "Four males in hoodies and balaclavas drove it down.
"They demolished the shop, ripped the cash machine out, put it on the back of a white van and drove off towards Newry."
The theft comes just weeks after a similar raid near Newry.
In that incident a gang tried to steal a cash machine from premises on the Forkhill Road using an angle grinder. They fled empty-handed following the incident on October 14.
The latest robbery will spark fears of another wave of ATM raids. Between 2009 and March 2014, there were 29 such attacks in Northern Ireland, with thieves pocketing more than £610,000.
Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy condemned the latest theft. "This is the second similar attack on a well-respected, family-run business," he said. "To compound their crime, the robbers set heavy machinery on fire in the middle of the Newry to Camlough Road, which created major traffic disruption on Friday morning."
Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them. Detective constable Sarah Lyttle said: "It is believed at this stage that heavy machinery was stolen from a building site on the Camlough Road at around 3.30am, and then used to remove an ATM machine from the wall of a filling station nearby. The machinery was set on fire following the incident, blocking the road."
Anyone who can assist the PSNI investigation should contact detectives on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.