Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Police need our help in foiling ATM raiders

The latest theft of an ATM machine, the eighth this year say police, amounts to a virtual rural epidemic of similar crimes. Only last week there was another raid on an ATM machine, across the border at Castleblaney.
The latest theft of an ATM machine, the eighth this year say police, amounts to a virtual rural epidemic of similar crimes. Only last week there was another raid on an ATM machine, across the border at Castleblaney.

Editor's Viewpoint

The latest theft of an ATM machine, the eighth this year say police, amounts to a virtual rural epidemic of similar crimes. Only last week there was another raid on an ATM machine, across the border at Castleblaney.

Given the frequency of such attacks, the people involved show little fear of being convicted and punished. Such outrages, in the early hours of darkness and carried out with dastardly speed and precision, are hard to detect.

The PSNI has already announced the establishment of a special task force to deal with this, but so far they have not been successful.

The frustration of individual officers was underlined by a Facebook message from one officer at Craigavon, who stated bluntly that the police cannot be everywhere at once.

The hard truth is that police need the help of everyone who notices something suspicious, such as a heavy digger noisily moving down a rural road during the night.

The police message also suggested other security measures, such as digger owners installing immobilisers, or people seeing overnight activity near building sites immediately reporting it to police.

The attacks on ATMs are lucrative crimes, and the after-effects are detrimental to the whole community. They create widespread fear and threaten the very existence of ATM machines in rural areas.

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The main banks must be considering the policy of simply replacing stolen ATMs with new ones, and if this litany of crime is not ended, there is more than a distinct possibility that most of these machines will not be replaced.

This warning has been given by Glyn Roberts of Retail NI and by others. The diminution and virtual disappearance of rural ATMs would be greatly detrimental to rural people, who depend so much on them at a time when more bank branches are closing.

This would particularly affect older people who may not be as keen as younger generations to use online banking; but in the long run the consistent attacks on ATMs will affect everyone in one way or another.

It is obvious that something must be done, but exactly what?

Until some new technological or security development will totally protect ATMs, the onus is not just on the police but on everyone to provide information which will bring these attackers to justice and eventually stamp out this heinous crime against society.

We are all in this together.

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