Roof ripped off Ballynahinch petrol station in attempted bank machine theft
The body which represents independent retailers described as a "new low" the latest spate of raids on bank machines.
On Monday a petrol station was damaged in an attempted theft while in Belfast a machine was taken from a healthcare business. It comes after a weekend in which an attempted was made to take a hospital ATM.
Extensive damage was caused in the attempted robbery in Ballynahinch, Co Down in the early hours of Monday morning. It appears the roof of the forecourt was ripped from its supports in the incident.
A bulldozer was used in an attempt to rip an ATM from the wall of a petrol station on the Belfast Road.
It is suspected the thieves used a digger in a bid to rip the cash machine from the wall of Carlisle's filling station and convenience store at around 5.30am.
Those involved were reported to have fled empty-handed.
A silver-coloured Volkswagen Passat car with a trailer was also reported at the scene which was later found on fire in the Queens Park area of Saintfield.
The road was closed on Monday morning, causing major disruption to rush-hour traffic.
Separately police said an ATM was stolen at some point over weekend from inside a health centre at Knockbracken Healthcare Park in Saintfield Road, close to Belfast. Police said it was too early to confirm if there was a link.
A member of staff arrived at their workplace at around 8am to find entry had been forced and the machine taken.
Police say they believe this occurred sometime between Friday evening and the time it was reported on Monday.
It comes after thieves attempted to steal a machine from the grounds of Belfast City Hospital.
Garda are also investigating an attempted ATM theft in Main Street in Dunleer, Co Louth, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Over the past year there has been a series of raids on cach machines leading police to up patrols and sparking concern businesses could decide to remove their cash machines for vulnerable locations. Fears were expressed this would leave some rural areas without access to cash.
Industry organisation Retail NI has condemned the latest incidents in Belfast.
“Words fail to describe my anger at this disgraceful attempted ATM robbery on one of our members," said chief executive Glyn Roberts.
“This has caused extensive damage to one of Ballynahinch’s largest retailers in the run-up to Christmas.
“This is an independent retailer, who provides an invaluable service to the local community, awakened from his sleep to be told his business is smashed up.
“It is also a new low for these robbers to attack health centres to steal ATMs.
“We would urge all businesses and organisations who have external ATMs to be vigilant and urge members of the public with any information to contact the PSNI.”
Detective Inspector Richard Thornton said an ATM theft was not a victimless crime.
"These attacks cause untold loss and disruption to people and businesses, many of whom depend on their local ATM provision for access to cash," he said.
“I want to take this opportunity to urge people to continue to be vigilant, and report any suspicious activity they see in their area.
“If your suspicions are aroused phone police immediately. Time is of the essence in catching these criminals. No matter how insignificant you think it is, your phone call to us could be key to catching the criminals responsible.”
Police can be contacted on 101.
Belfast Telegraph Digital