Belfast Telegraph

Belfast ATM raids work of organised crime gang, court told

The men were charged in connection with ATM raids in Northern Ireland
The men were charged in connection with ATM raids in Northern Ireland

An organised crime gang is suspected of stealing £120,000 in a series of raids on cash machines in the greater Belfast area, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors also said £50,000 worth of damage was caused during attacks on nine ATMs allegedly linked to the same outfit.

New details emerged as bail was refused to a 33-year-old man accused of involvement in two of the break-ins.

Wayne Wilson, of Downshire Park Central in Belfast, denies two counts of burglary with intent to steal.

The charges relate to attacks on machines at a filling station on Gilnahirk Road, east Belfast on May 17, and a convenience store in the Hardford Link area of Newtownards on March 30.

Prosecutors said both incidents are thought to be part of a spate of nine raids by an organised crime gang using the same modus operandi.

Scouting trips were carried out at the machines targeted, with a bank card being used to make a balance inquiry, the court heard.

Thieves then prised open the doors to the ATM bunkers, hid inside and used angle grinders to get to the cash supplies. 

Police are not linking the attacks to separate heists where diggers ripped machines out of walls.

Wilson and two co-accused were arrested in the general vicinity following the early morning bid to steal from premises on the Gilnahirk Road, the court heard.

Three men fled from the scene when police moved in, with a PSNI helicopter said to have been used to track their movements.

A Crown lawyer said Wilson cannot be excluded from DNA found on a grip bag recovered from the earlier burglary in Newtownards.

Opposing bail, she disclosed that detectives also want to question him about seven other ATM burglaries they suspect were carried out by the same organised crime gang.

"Police believe they are specifically targeting ATMs on a daily basis," counsel said.

"There's a financial loss to the retail community in Northern Ireland, £120,000 has been stolen at ATMs and considerable damage of around £50,000 (caused)."

Defence barrister Michael Boyd confirmed Wilson denies any alleged involvement.

He set out how his client was seeking compassionate release to look after his partner on medical grounds.

But denying bail, Mr Justice Huddleston cited the risk of re-offending and potential interference with the ongoing investigation. ends

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