They were after the brownies: Coffee shop jokes after ATM raid
A coffee shop beside the latest scene of an ATM raid in Co Antrim joked the thieves were "after their brownies".
Thieves used a digger to rip an ATM machine from a wall in the centre of Bushmills in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
It is the ninth such incident in Northern Ireland with police establishing a special task force in a bid to crack down on the thefts and urging communities to be on the look out for heavy plant machinery in the early hours of the night.
In the Bushmills incident a tractor was used to transport the digger to the scene before it was used. Both vehicles were burnt out.
The Diamond area of the town has been sealed off by the police while they investigate.
These pics from Jasmine in our Bushmills store pic.twitter.com/YoYNr2kXOR— Ground Espresso Bars (@groundespresso) April 16, 2019
The Ground Espresso Bars franchise in the town is immediately beside the scene. It had been due to open for the new season on Wednesday.
It took to Twitter to show the scale of the destruction. Pictures show rubble and brick strewn across the pavement and possible structural damage to the rest of the building. The full extent of the damage is not yet known.
"Bit of a mess in #bushmills rumour has it they were after our brownies ...," the store posted on Twitter.
Darren Gardiner, co-founder, Ground Espresso Bars added: "This is very disappointing for the local community and for tourists visiting Bushmills.
"We don’t yet know the full extent of the potential damage which has been done. The store was due to officially open for the season tomorrow, however deliveries have had to be cancelled and staff coming in to prepare for opening turned away.”
Last week Retail NI, which represents independent traders, said joking about the ATM thefts created a "dangerous narrative" with those responsible nothing but criminals. That came after a string of jokes made on social media and on light entertainment shows about the spate of incidents.
There is also concern in rural communities they could lose their cash machines as providers opt to remove them for fear of being targeted.
Retail NI described the latest incident as a "shameless attack on a rural town" as it prepares for the busy Easter weekend.
“The loss of this ATM means that the local community and tourists will be restricted in accessing cash," said chief executive Glyn Roberts.
"Every single ATM robbery brings rural Northern Ireland that much closer to being a cash-free zone. Regardless if whether have been robbed, many Retail NI members are now considering removing their ATMs for fear of their shops being smashed up.
"Retail NI will be meeting the Policing Board on Thursday to discuss the Police response and what more can be done to tackle this crisis."
The DUP and Sinn Fein said there was an urgent need to bring those responsible to justice and put an end to the raids.
Meanwhile police are investigating the theft of a digger from the Ballynafern Road in Banbridge. The yellow JCB TM 300 Telehandler was taken from the property sometime between 4pm on Friday 8.30am on Saturday.
Police appealed to local residents to be on the look out for heavy machinery moving around, particularly in the middle of the night.
Anyone with information should contact detectives on 101 quoting ref 106 16/04/18 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Belfast Telegraph Digital