Ballynahinch filling station robbery is third ATM raid in a month
A cash machine and safe have been stolen from a service station in Co Down, the third such incident in just over a month.
The latest raid occurred at the Donard View filling station near Ballynahinch in the early hours of yesterday morning. Police said a "substantial" amount of money was stolen.
It follows previous raids in the Keady and Newry areas in recent weeks.
Yesterday's burglary, at the station on the Crossgar Road in Ballynahinch, is thought to have occurred some time before 4.30am.
Forensics and police officers could be seen searching fields behind the commercial property yesterday.
The shop owners were at the scene but were too shocked to speak.
It comes weeks after thieves stole around £17,500 from an ATM machine after breaking into a Costcutters near Newry. The suspects cut holes in the roof of the shop in Mayobridge and smashed open the ATM before fleeing.
A second ATM was also ripped out of a wall in Co Armagh last month.
The cash point in Keady was pulled from the main building of the shop, and was discovered by staff the following day. A yellow forklift thought to have been used in the incident was left abandoned near the scene.
On the latest incident, Detective Sergeant Bell said: "It was reported that an ATM machine with a substantial amount of money was taken as well as the safe from the commercial premises. It is believed that the incident occurred sometime before 4.30am on Tuesday.
"I would appeal for anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious persons or vehicles in the Crossgar Road area to contact Detectives on the non-emergency number 101."
SDLP councillor Terry Andrews condemned the robbery.
He said: "This was a disastrous deed carried out in the middle of the night.
"These attacks need to end as it disrupts people from doing their job."
Glyn Roberts from Retail NI described the robberies as "attacks on local communities".
"It is concerning that this is the third such robbery in recent weeks and I have been worried that we could be seeing a resumption in ATM robberies," he said.
"Several years ago we went through a wide number of attacks which were carried out by an organised crime gang,
"It's desperately worrying that we could be seeing a return of this.
"We urge all our members and the wider retail sector if they have ATMs to ensure they are taking the correct security advice.
"The impact this has is huge as all retailers that are being attacked are local community retailers who serve their local communities.
"When someone attacks and robs them they are robbing their community."