Belfast Telegraph

Policing Board needs to ensure PSNI has resources to tackle ATM theft crisis - Retail NI

Robberies costing retailers over £1m

Retail NI meets with Policing Board.
Retail NI meets with Policing Board.
Peter McCool (Retail NI), Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) and Pat Leneghan (Nisa), speaking to the media after their meeting with the Policing Board in Belfast Photo By Justin Kernoghan

Retail NI has said the Policing Board must ensure the PSNI has the resources to tackle the ATM theft crisis.

The organisation which represents small and independent retailers met with the oversight body on Thursday just two days after the latest ATM theft in Bushmills.

Ten ATMs have been stolen in nine raids this year with one failed attempt. Police said an immobiliser fitted to a digger thwarted the thieves on one occasion.

Police have called on communities to be their "eyes and ears" and to be alert to heavy machinery moving about in the dead of night. They have faced criticism for their response with Jim Allister saying the "criminal were winning".

Police have upped patrols but said they can't be everywhere at once. "We don’t have crystal balls,” one officer said.

Of their Policing Board meeting, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts described it as "useful".

"The Policing Board must play its role in holding the PSNI to account on its response to this crisis and to ensure that the police have the resources to catch the criminal gangs," he said.

“So far these robberies have cost our members in excess of £1million and they are putting businesses and jobs at risk.

“Our members are now living in constant fear that their stores will be next to be attacked and no small business should ever have to operate in that environment.

“They are not just attacks on independent retailers. They are attacks on entire rural communities."

Policing Board Vice Chair Debbie Watters added: "Board members welcomed the opportunity to hear from Retail NI today and understand the concerns and frustrations expressed around the impact that the spate of ATM thefts is having on local retailers and communities, particularly in rural areas.

"At the last board meeting, members questioned the Chief Constable in some detail on the preventative and investigative strategy being progressed to bring those responsible to justice and we were assured that appropriate resources are being directed in response.

"The police also need the support and vigilance of the community in tackling these crimes. We welcome the public response to date in providing information and urge anyone who sees any activity they think is suspicious to contact the police immediately.”

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