Northern Ireland

Cash machine thieves 'just hoods not Robin Hoods'

Business representatives outside PSNI headquarters in Belfast.
Image caption Business representatives said they had a productive meeting with the PSNI over cash machine thefts

Business representatives have met the PSNI to voice their concerns over the theft of cash machines.

Retail NI chief Glyn Roberts described the meeting as "very productive" adding they were assured that there would be extra patrols to tackle the issue.

He also said that those involved in the thefts were not "Robin Hoods" but "criminals of the worst kind".

Since the start of the year, eight cash machines have been ripped from walls by diggers in Northern Ireland.

In the latest incident, a cash machine was stolen from a shop outside Dungiven, County Londonderry, at about 04:30 BST on Sunday.

CCTV footage shows a digger driving through a security gate then tearing the machine from the wall.

"We need to see these gangs put out of commission," Mr Roberts said, calling for the public to be extra vigilant.

"If they hear or see anything suspicious like a digger driving to their town or village in the middle of the night, be under no illusion, ring 999," he said.

"We also need to nail the lie that these gangs are somehow Robin Hoods, they are just hoods.

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Media captionCCTV shows digger ripping out Dungiven cash machine

"They're criminals of the worst kind that are preying on independent retailers, small businesses, businesses that represent the very best in a community and provide an invaluable service to the local community."

A representative of the Henderson retail group said he was confident and that police have a plan in place to deal with the gangs behind the robberies.

"Let's be very clear, unless these gangs are caught we could be looking at large parts of rural Northern Ireland being effectively cash-free zones where ATMs will be hard to find and that will hit the most vulnerable in our communities," he added.

PSNI Det Ch Insp David Henderson appealed to people to remain vigilant and alert to any usual activity "especially the movement of plant machinery late at night or early in the morning".

He said a dedicated team of detectives continue to investigate the nine incidents so far this year and that police are actively patrolling vulnerable and high risk locations.

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