Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: ATM raids a reminder of the need for all to be vigilant in the face of ruthless crime gangs who will stop at nothing

Detectives investigating an attempted ATM theft in Omagh
Detectives investigating an attempted ATM theft in Omagh

Editor's Viewpoint

The latest attack on a ATM machine, this time at a filling station in Co Tyrone, is another shocking example of how far thieves will go to grab money stored for the convenience of people who want to withdraw cash for their everyday needs.

It demonstrates the chronic lawlessness in many parts of Northern Ireland at a time when the PSNI is so hard-pressed by its lack of funding and staffing.

The situation is so bad that many filling stations are closing at night, and even then the nature of these random attacks on ATM machines makes prevention and arrests extremely difficult.

This results in a substantial loss of money, as well as the apprehension of filling station and store owners and members of the public, which is impossible to calculate in financial terms.

This contributes to the challenges facing the major banks at a time when banking habits are creating major changes in how they operate. These changes are most directly felt in the closure of branches, and Danske Bank will be closing two, in Belfast and Bangor, later this year.

The Consumer Council reveals that in January 2018, one in four branches of the big banks here had closed in little over a year.

The reasons for this are complex, and include the cutting of overheads and changes in how we use banks. For many people, mobile and internet banking are what they need in their busy world.

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However, there are still many others, including the older generation, who prefer more traditional banking at a counter.

Some are also wary of falling victim to cybercrime and scams. Of course progress and new techniques are important, but people also need to be aware of the challenges of using these, and they need help in doing so.

The latest attack on a ATM machine is a stark warning to everyone of the greed and ruthlessness of criminals. It is important for everyone to be aware of the risks, not only at ATMs, but also when using their own computer for banking, and when it comes to keeping cash and possessions secure in their own home.

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