Belfast Telegraph

Thieves use digger in rural Tyrone ATM robbery bid

By Staff Reporter

A digger was used to ram into a supermarket in the latest ATM raid, amid serious concern over a resurgence of the attacks.

A wall was demolished and the cash machine damaged, but it is not yet known if any money was taken in the early morning robbery attempt in Co Tyrone.

A spate of similar raids on shops and filling stations in the past year has left a trail of destruction and soaring insurance premiums for business owners.

There are also fears the raids will force the withdrawal of vital ATM services from rural areas.

Politicians for the area said residents were appalled by the attack in Moore Street, Aughnacloy.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said: "This is an attack on the entire community and causes great damage to property.

"The Aughnacloy community is suffering enough at a time when people are faced with the closure of the last remaining bank in the town. Last night's action just causes even more pressure and fears on local businesses."

DUP peer Lord Morrow added: "This is a worrying return to a crime which blighted rural parts of Fermanagh and Tyrone a few years ago.

"There was also an attempt recently near Portadown to steal one of these machines.

"While again on this occasion they did not manage to actually steal the ATM, the community is left without a vital service.

"With the closure of many rural bank branches, ATMs are the only way many people have to access their money.

"This particularly affects older and more vulnerable people, who are less able to travel to access their money.

"It is vital that the police ensure that resources are placed into catching those responsible. If these attempts continue there is a danger that the companies which operate them will simply withdraw entirely from rural communities."

Previously the Belfast Telegraph revealed more than £600,000 has been stolen as a result of raids on ATM machines across Northern Ireland.

Figures released to this newspaper by police show that between 2009 and March of this year there were 29 such attacks.

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