Three masked men used a stolen 4x4 vehicle in an attempt to drag away an ATM machine from the post office in Dungiven in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Police say that at around 1.20am the trio smashed the front door window of the Main Street facility, placed a chain around the ATM and attached it to the stolen vehicle, They attempted to drag the ATM away but were unsuccessful.
All three males had balaclavas. One was wearing a white hooded top and another one was wearing a grey hooded top.
The attack on the busy post office - which PO officials say is expected to re-open today after being closed all of yesterday - provoked outrage among local residents and councillors.
Sinn Féin councillor, Sean McGlinchey branded the incident as “an attack on the community”.
“This was a criminal act that could jeopardise a much needed facility in the community,” he said. “The attempt to steal money from the ATM machine situated inside the Dungiven Post Office only puts at risk a facility that is well used by the local community. In a time of economic hardship the last thing that the owners need is the extra expense of having to clean up after a break-in and implementing extra security to prevent it.
“I visited the premises yesterday and there was substantial damage done but fortunately the thieves never got the ATM out of the shop. This was an attack on the community.”
SDLP councillor Michael Coyle blasted those behind the bungled break-in as “thugs”.
“This inconvenienced an awful lot of people, especially on a Monday when people rely on the Post Office to draw their benefits and go about their business. It is a very busy post office, and fortunately whoever was behind this attempted crime didn’t get away with the ATM. It has, however, caused inconvenience and cost money to the post office and lost business which is never good. Those who did this are selfish thugs thinking only of financial gain.”
Both councillors urged anyone with information on the incident to take it to the PSNI.
Police want anyone who noticed any suspicious vehicles or activity in the area or has any information to call them on 0845 600 8000 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.