Northern Ireland

Call for better security on vehicles after ATM robbery

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Media captionCCTV shows digger ripping out Dungiven cash machine

A Northern Ireland plant hire manager has highlighted the need for better security in construction machines after a a stolen digger was used to rip a cash machine from the side of a shop in County Londonderry.

The incident happened at a garage outside Dungiven on Sunday morning.

The Department for Infrastructure has confirmed the digger was taken from the site of a major roads project.

Plant hire manager Brendan Byrne said "one key" fitted a number of machines.

Image caption The machine was taken from a site at the dualling scheme roadworks on the A6 between Drumahoe and Dungiven

"As long as you have a bunch of keys, you can be relatively safe to say you can drive away in that machine," he said

"It's as easy as that there.

"It is a bit like when you have your car and your car costs £20,000 and comes with a chipped key.

"If you are spending £80,000 to £100,000 on a construction machine, it comes with virtually nothing in terms of anti-theft devices."

The digger was taken from a site at the dualling scheme roadworks on the A6 between Drumahoe and Dungiven.

The Department for Infrastructure is reminding contractors of the need to secure equipment on sites overnight.

Image caption Brendan Byrne is a plant hire manager

Gavin Maguire of the Federation of Master Builders said that one of the concerns contractors had raised was the fact that "even though they do put GPS equipment" in the machines, and "they have a lot of safety in there, that seems to be able to be overridden by the techniques of these criminal gangs".

The cash machine was lifted into a Citroen Berlingo car which had part of its roof cut off. A number of masked men are seen in the footage of the robbery.

The raid lasted just over four minutes. Afterwards the car was driven away with the cash machine sticking out of the roof.

It is the latest in a series of cash machine thefts on both sides of the Irish border, with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) saying it was the eighth such incident in 2019.

The digger was stolen from the building site further down the road before being driven to the garage.

Last week, there were two separate cash machine thefts - one outside a shop in County Antrim and the the wall of a bank in County Monaghan in the Irish Republic.

Police warned there could be several gangs involved in taking cash machines in Northern Ireland.

Image caption The robbery took place at O'Kane's Filling Station just outside Dungiven

In March, the PSNI announced the creation of a new team of detectives to investigate cash machine thefts, following an upsurge in the number of built-in cash machines being ripped from the walls of commercial properties by plant machinery.

One customer at the garage on Sunday told BBC News NI the theft of the cash machine was a big loss, especially following closures of banks in the area.

Image copyright Pacemaker

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