Belfast Telegraph

Police apology for raid on wrong home in wrong village in ATM theft probe

Police searched the wrong homes as part of their probe into ATM thefts. (stock pic)
Police searched the wrong homes as part of their probe into ATM thefts. (stock pic)
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Police apologised after raiding the wrong homes as part of a search operation into the recent spate of ATM thefts.

One resident took to Facebook to share their anger after their home was "turned upside down" during the searches.

He said that his mother "came home to a broken door due to a battering ram" after the searches and said a search warrant was left on the kitchen table for a "completely different address in a completely different village".

An MLA said police had relied upon satnav or Google Maps for the operation.

Police swooped on homes in Granemore outside Armagh on Monday.

The man said police had "left a widow with three children to pick up the pieces and restore the house to good order".

"My mother is extremely upset and feels like she isn't safe in her own home, which infuriates me and my siblings as she has done her absolute best to support and raise us in a safe environment," the post read.

"To know that 10-plus PSNI officers were in my family home looking through our documents and belongings for no reason is appalling."

Police confirmed that they "mistakenly entered two wrong addresses" on Monday while conducting searches across the Newry and Armagh areas in relation to ATM thefts.

Detective Inspector Keith Gawley said that police "regret the mistakes made" and had apologised to householders.

Megan Fearon
Megan Fearon

"We have also advised our officers of the matter in order to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future," he said.

“It is very important that police are able to fight crime effectively and our aim is always to protect communities and make them safer. Thousands of searches are carried out every year within Northern Ireland which are vital in detecting crime and bringing people before the courts.

“Unfortunately, whilst it is not our intention, damage to property can occur as a result of searches. Where appropriate, compensation will be paid to the householder where damage is caused to their property.”

Sinn Fein MLA Megan Fearon said that the policing operation was "shambolic and incompetent".

She said that the Police Ombudsman has been contacted to investigate the searches.

“They raided houses that people had moved out of many years ago. Their approach of locating ‘target’ houses using satnav or google map was embarrassingly incompetent," the Newry and Armagh MLA said.

“It was very obvious that the PSNI were working on dated and erroneous intelligence.

"What has happened has undermined public faith, trust and confidence in the PSNI."

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