The PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch have allocated a team of detectives to investigate ATM thefts and are appealing to the public for information following an increase in thefts of ATMs across Northern Ireland.
Speaking after seven such attacks were confirmed over the last four months, Detective Inspector Richard Thornton said: “Recently there has been an upsurge in the number of ATM machines ripped from the walls of commercial premises using plant machinery which, more often than not, has been stolen from a nearby farm or building site and then destroyed after each incident.
“The attacks tend to occur more frequently, but not exclusively, in rural areas, and are a serious cause for concern for us all.”
Det. Insp. Thornton said that the idea that ATM thefts are a victimless crime should be “completely discounted” as these attacks cause “untold loss and disruption to individuals, businesses and whole communities”, in terms of the loss of very expensive machinery, delays in production, damage to the local economy and the likelihood of criminal finances “being redirected back into funding further organised crime or terrorism”.
“Local people who rely upon these banking facilities also suffer as they may have to travel considerable distances to find an alternative banking arrangements and the livelihoods of the business owners who have worked for years to build up their businesses is also jeopardised,” he said, adding: “I would also appeal to machinery owners to take the following steps to try and prevent thefts:
*Secure/immobilise stored vehicles and if practical move machinery from fields when not in use especially if near a road.
*Never leave keys in machinery and ensure there are storage areas for all machinery left on site overnight.
*Consider fitting tracking devices to valuable vehicles and deter would be thieves by displaying security signs on site to highlight measures in place such as CCTV.
*Report any suspicious activity to police.
“We are following a number of lines of enquiry in relation to these attacks, however, I would appeal to anyone who can offer us any information which could assist us to apprehend those responsible to contact detectives on 101. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”