£610k lost in ATM raids since 2009 as criminals strike again
More than £600,000 has been stolen as a result of raids on ATM machines across Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Figures released to this newspaper by police show that between 2009 and March of this year there were 29 such attacks.
In recent months there have been further thefts of the cash machines, with those responsible leaving a trail of destruction behind.
The most recent took place in the early hours of yesterday when a lorry was used to demolish a wall of a filling station in Co Londonderry.
Police believe the vehicle had been stolen in Coleraine shortly before the raid in nearby Castlerock.
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, called for urgent action to be taken to stop the brazen thefts, which he said were leading to soaring insurance premiums for victims.
"This is a disgraceful attack on an independent retailer who provides a vital community service to the local community in Castlerock. The criminals behind this attack are attempting to steal from the community itself," he said.
"For some time we have been concerned with the growing volume of these attacks against our members and the severe financial costs to independent retailers as a result of them. We have received numerous reports of members seeing their insurance premiums soar after these attacks.
"NIIRTA has requested meetings with the PSNI Chief Constable, Policing Board and Justice Minister to press for a more effective co-ordinated approach to address these types of attacks and general crime against retailers."
The PSNI said between 2009 and last March the total amount of money taken as a result of ATM raids was £610,020.
There were three further thefts in Co Armagh in April, with explosives used to access the cash.
Police are investigating if there are links to similar robberies here and in the Republic.
The PSNI has appealed for information after the attempted ATM theft at the filling station on Mussenden Road, Castlerock, shortly before 5am yesterday.
A vehicle believed to have been used by those responsible is being forensically examined by investigators.
Jason Maguire, the shop's owner, said the property has been extensively damaged.
"A lot of people very much depend on us, it's a free cash machine," he said.
"I got a phonecall shortly after five this morning, so you know it is not good news.
"The CCTV shows a lorry being driven into the building.
"The cash machine is a very important part of the business and it will take us some time to get things up and running again.
"We are really going to be struggling now without this, it's going to be a major expense, we want to just get the shop back on the road and keep all our customers happy."
PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Catherine Magee said: "Shortly before 4.35am, it was reported that an attempt was made to remove an ATM machine at a petrol station at the Articlave area.
"Nothing is believed to have been taken during the incident. It was reported that a tractor unit of a lorry made a number of attempts to damage the machine by reversing into the building. Enquiries are continuing."