Ballymena: Cash machines recovered after latest theft
Two cash machines stolen in an overnight raid have been recovered by police.
The theft happened on the Larne Link Road in Ballymena, with thieves ripping the two machines from a Tesco store.
Police received a report of the incident around 03:00 BST, after a pick-up type vehicle loaded with the cash machines was spotted fleeing.
Including the incidents on Friday, 14 cash machines have been stolen in 11 incidents in Northern Ireland in 2019.
There have also been two attempted thefts of ATMs this year.
There have also been two cash machines stolen in the Republic of Ireland.
The digger used in the theft was stolen from Ballymena construction company NIRBC Ltd.
Company owner Andy Magee told BBC News NI he "feels sorry" for the person who carried out the theft.
"He feels the need that he has to go and go to all that bother and steal something, rather than getting up and going to his work," he said.
"Life ruined you know, wasted. Maybe that's a silly view to take, but that would be my view on it."
The digger was taken from the Green Pastures Church in Ballymena, where work was being carried out.
Cash machine thefts - 2019
11 incidents involving 14 machines.
- 1 February - Supermarket, Ballymena Road, Antrim (Two cash machines removed).
- 2 February - Supermarket, Glenavy Road, Moira.
- 15 February - Service Station, Killyclogher Road, Omagh.
- 10 March - Service Station, Ballygawley Road, Dungannon.
- 22 March - Bank, Mallusk Road, Newtownabbey.
- 24 March - Service station, Dromore Road, Irvinestown.
- 1 April - Shop, Brook Street, Ahoghill.
- 7 April - Service Station, Feeney Road, Dungiven.
- 16 April - Coffee shop, Main Street, Bushmills.
- 16 April - Supermarket, Main Street, Crumlin (Two cash machines removed).
- 26 April - Tesco, Larne Link Road, Ballymena (Two cash machines removed).
A tractor and digger were used to remove the cash machines in Ballymena, with both vehicles later set alight at the scene.
The cash machines and the vehicle spotted driving away with them were found abandoned on the Woodside Road.
Det Chief Insp David Henderson said the machines will now be examined for forensic evidence.
"It is likely that the digger and tractor involved were stolen however no reports of such machinery being stolen have been received as yet," he said.
"I want to reassure the public that we continue to do everything that we can to try stop these attacks and catch those responsible.
"We have dedicated an increased the amount of resources to tackling this issue including actively patrolling ATM sites day and night."
Det Ch Insp Henderson added the attacks happen across wide geographical area, and police "cannot be present at every ATM location all of the time".
"We really need the public to help us and report anything suspicious, as a number of people did in Ballymena this morning," he said.
Tesco remains closed and the company is assisting police with their inquiries.
In February, the PSNI announced the creation of a new team of detectives to investigate cash machine thefts, following an upsurge in the number of attacks.
The police said they believe several gangs could be involved in the operations.
Politicians have voiced concern about the impact of the cash machine thefts on local communities.
Figures obtained by BBC News NI through a Freedom of Information request show that between 2014 and 2018 five ATMs were stolen across Northern Ireland.