Police recover stolen cash machine

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Police have recovered an ATM ripped from the wall of a shop in North Antrim.

The early-morning attack using a digger in Market Square in Bushmills has devastated the local community, officers said.

It was the ninth such theft this year.

Detective Chief Inspector Dunny McCubbin said: “As in all of these ATM thefts, the actions of these criminals have not only caused immediate financial harm to the business that was targeted, but they have caused devastation to the local community.

“I want to reassure the public that we continue to take this matter extremely seriously. I understand the fear that these attacks are causing, and the damage that is left in the wake of each theft. We are doing all we can to catch the people responsible and stop these attacks.”

He appealed for anyone who saw a digger on a low loader being towed by a tractor on the roads in the Bushmills area to contact police.

The incident happened just before 3.30am on Tuesday morning.

Police believe a telehandler was used to transport the ATM from the Diamond area of the village.

Geoffrey McKillop, owner of the Hip Chip as well as Lily’s Coffee Shop, was impacted by the theft.

“A digger and a JCB targeted the ATM beside Lily’s Coffee Shop and Ground Coffee Shop, smashed it out of the wall and placed it in a trailer then fled off,” he said.

“They have caused devastating damage to the building, also the impact that my business was closed all day, the other coffee shop had to postpone its opening.

“The image of the village has been really tarnished province-wide because of what is happening. Not sure who is behind it, but we’d really like to see them caught and punished.

ATM machine theft
The scene in Market Square in Bushmills after a digger was used to rip an ATM from the wall of a shop (Liam McBurney/PA)

Police have a specialist team investigating the series of nine thefts of ATMs since the start of the year.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts represents small businesses.

He said: “This is a shameless attack on a rural town which was preparing for a busy Easter weekend of visitors and tourists.

“The loss of this ATM means that the local community and tourists will be restricted in accessing cash.”

He said every ATM theft brought rural Northern Ireland closer to being a cash-free zone.

Many Retail NI members are considering removing their ATMs for fear of their shops being smashed up.

He said Retail NI will be meeting the Policing Board on Thursday to discuss the police response and what more can be done.

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