Northern Ireland

ATM thefts: Police investigate Ballynahinch and Belfast incidents

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Media captionCCTV shows the moment the forecourt canopy was knocked over by a shovel loader

Police are investigating two cash machine theft incidents in County Down, including an attack which led to the collapse of a petrol station forecourt roof.

The failed attempt happened at Carlisles' on the Belfast Road in Ballynahinch on Monday morning.

Thieves, however, succeeded in stealing an ATM from a premises on the Saintfield Road in Belfast.

Police said it is not yet clear if the two incidents are linked.

Image copyright Pacemaker

Donna Carlisle, one of the owners of the petrol station, said it was "devastating".

"They just rammed the front of the shop trying to get to the ATM and then they went into the shop - they took tills, took cigarettes.

"Then in a kerfuffle at the end, the digger went into the canopy and the whole lot came down.

"Thankfully no-one was hurt."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A digger is believed to have been used to ram the petrol station

She added they had CCTV footage of the incident and hoped someone would recognise the thieves.

"A lot of people work there, they'll be out of work until we know it's going to be sorted," she said.

"It's devastating, you build a thing up and then somebody can just take it away from you."

Image caption The forecourt roof was damaged during the attempted theft

Det Insp Richard Thornton said the Saintfield Road theft was reported to them on Monday morning after a member of staff arrived at their workplace and discovered entry had been forced and an ATM machine had been taken.

Retail NI, an organisation representing businesses, said the incident happened at the Knockbracken Health Centre.

"We believe this occurred sometime between Friday evening and the time it was reported to us," said Det Insp Thornton.

Image copyright Pacemaker

He described the attempted theft in Ballynahinch as "a brazen and despicable attack".

It is believed that a digger had been used to try and rip the cash machine from the wall of the petrol station.

At the scene

by Kelly Bonner, BBC News NI reporter

Carlisles' is one of the main petrol stations in Ballynahinch.

The police have cordoned off part of the road and the petrol station.

The roof of the forecourt has been completely torn down and is now on top of the petrol pumps.

Image copyright Pacemaker

The front of the shop has also been badly damaged.

In the distance a digger, presumably the one used in the attack, is visible.

A few locals before have told me they heard a commotion going on at about 05:30 this morning.

A silver-coloured Volkswagen Passat was also reported at the scene.

"Those involved in the attempted theft were reported to have fled the scene, empty handed, but having caused substantial damage to the premises and to the roof of the forecourt."

The police have appealed for information.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: "Words fail to describe my anger at this disgraceful attempted ATM robbery on one of our members.

"This has caused extensive damage to one of Ballynahinch's largest retailers in the run up to Christmas.

"It is also a new low for these robbers to attack health centres to steal ATMs."