Belfast Telegraph

Police: Belfast ATM raiders 'members of gang'

Police at the scene of an attempted ATM theft at a Topaz filling station on the Gilnahirk Road in Belfast. Photo By Justin Kernoghan
Police at the scene of an attempted ATM theft at a Topaz filling station on the Gilnahirk Road in Belfast. Photo By Justin Kernoghan

Police have said they believe four men arrested after an attempted ATM theft in Belfast are members of a gang linked to several other thefts in recent months.

Three of the men were arrested after they attempted to steal a cash machine at a service station on the Gilnahirk Road on Friday morning.

A fourth man was arrested later at a house in east Belfast. The would-be thieves did not manage to steal any money.

The men, aged 30, 33, 37 and 41 are currently being questioned at Musgrave Police Station.

Detective Chief Inspector David Henderson said: “We believe these individuals are members of a gang linked to recent ATM attacks in the greater Belfast area in the last few months.

"ATM crimes have been a priority for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.  In recent months we have carried out 41 searches across Northern Ireland, during which we recovered over £51,000 and made 19 arrests.

"As a result of these arrests, detectives have now charged five men in relation to ATM thefts in Fintona, Antrim and Tully Road, Nutt’s Corner and also charged two men, for other offences including theft, driving offences and possession of criminal property.

"Six of these men have been remanded in custody."

Alliance councillor Ross McMullan said that nearby Gilnahirk Primary School was damaged as the men behind the theft attempted to make their escape.

"I offer my support and help to the school and businesses, which are at the heart of the local community," he said.

"I am glad there has been a swift response by the PSNI and I hope it marks the end of this spate of ATM robberies."

DCI Henderson said that, despite the progress made in tackling such crimes, police will not become "complacent" and they will continue night patrols at ATM vulnerable to attack.

“I would again appeal to the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious or unusual activity, such as people or vehicles loitering in areas close to ATMs," he said.

“This remains a key priority for us. The idea that ATM thefts are a victimless crime is simply wrong as these attacks cause untold loss and disruption to people, businesses and whole communities, in terms of the loss of very expensive machinery, delays in production, damage to the local economy.

"If you hear machinery late at night or in the early hours please call us on the non-emergency number 101 or 999 if you think a crime is in progress."

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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