Shoppers left furious as thieves carry out ATM robbery in Antrim
Shoppers reacted with disgust after two cash machines were raided at a major supermarket in Antrim.
The theft was reported shortly after 3am yesterday, after a digger was used to steal an ATM unit housing two machines at a Tesco store in the Castle Way area.
A health centre car park behind the town's Tesco store was used to gain access with a digger scooping the machines up, just 200 yards from the town's police station.
Following the robbery the digger was then set on fire. Around 30 minutes later police found both machines in the nearby Birch Hill Road area.
Arriving at Tesco hours later, shoppers voiced frustration that more has not been done to prevent the series of ATM thefts.
Jim Thompson, from Antrim, said the situation should have been dealt with long ago.
"This should have been dealt with initially by the police," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
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"Put sirens in them all. Make them make a hell of a din and that'd soon stop people trying to steal them when it's quiet in the middle of the night. We'd never have got to this stage."
Fellow customer Michael Quinn said the attack had caused a headache for other Tesco visitors to the Antrim store.
"My mother will be here tomorrow and now she can't use the machine," he said.
"It's unbelievable. There's security cameras around here looking at the scene but the police station shuts at 7pm every night so what do you do?
"At least someone will have a nice Christmas if they get away with it. It just leaves the rest of us inconvenienced."
His comments were echoed by another woman, who said: "People get taxis here for their shopping. They rely on the cash machines. The nearest machine is in the town. You have to walk there and that's going to be awkward.
"I heard about this on social media this morning so was able to go to another cash machine on the way, but there are people turning up here and having to go away again as they can't get access to their money."
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts urged store owners to be vigilant in the run-up to the busy festive shopping period.
"Yet again we awaken to the news of another disgraceful ATM attack on a retailer," he said.
"In the run up to Christmas, we would repeat our call for all retailers and businesses who have external ATMs to be vigilant, particularly if they are near building sites with diggers."
The latest incident follows a spate of ATM thefts in Northern Ireland earlier this year. In February two ATMs were stolen from the side of an Asda supermarket on Antrim's Ballymena Road.
Police stepped up patrols in rural areas in an attempt to combat the robberies and asked the public to remain vigilant of any heavy machinery vehicles traveling late at night.
Appealing for anyone with information to come forward, Detective Inspector Richard Thornton said yesterday the investigation was at an early stage, but officers are working to establish if it is linked to other ATM thefts.