Belfast Telegraph

Police urge builders to secure equipment after ATM theft in Ahoghill

A digger, which had been stolen from a nearby site, was used in the raid at the Nisa shop on Brook Street in Ahoghill.
A digger, which had been stolen from a nearby site, was used in the raid at the Nisa shop on Brook Street in Ahoghill.

Police are investigating yet another ATM theft in Northern Ireland.

A machine was ripped from a shop in the Co Antrim village of Ahoghill in the early hours or Monday morning.

Police believe a digger was stolen from a nearby building site and the machine taken from the Brook Street shop at around 3.30am.

Considerable damage was caused to the building and the digger set on fire.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw a silver-coloured people carrier type vehicle in the area or anything suspicious to contact detectives.

There have been a spate of incidents over recent weeks leading police to establish a special taskforce to probe the thefts. Retailers are concerned banks may opt to remove their machines potentially cutting off rural areas from access to cash in their communities.

Monday's theft is the seventh this year.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said:  “Yet again we awake to the news of another disgraceful ATM robbery on a local independent retailer.

“If the criminal gangs behind these ATM robberies are not stopped there is a real danger many rural communities will lose local access to cash. They are attacking local family-owned small businesses which are the backbone of the rural economy, providing an invaluable service to the local community.

“The gangs behind these attacks need to be caught and put in jail for a very long time."

Sinn Fein Councillor Patrice Hardy described the incident an "attack on a rural community".

“Small local businesses such as this provide a vital service in rural communities but their sustainability is threatened by robberies of this nature," she said.

“I would urge anyone with any information to bring it forward to the PSNI to help catch those responsible."

Detective Inspector Thornton urged businesses to regularly review their crime prevention measures to minimise their risk of becoming a victim of crime and added: “I encourage those either using or storing heavy plant machinery such as diggers or telehandlers on sites, or facilities near commercial premises, to ensure that these machines are kept locked, secured and immobilised to prevent theft.

“More generally, I would also encourage people who live close to businesses like filling stations and local shops to contact police immediately if they see any unusual activity or people in the area. For example, if you hear machinery late at night or in the early hours please let us know.

“Report any power outages close to commercial premises during the hours of darkness via 101. Also, if you see people or vehicles appearing to pay particular attention to certain premises, call police on 101. In an emergency or if you suspect a crime is in progress, dial 999."

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