Rural Banks Face Closure Risks Amid ATM Thefts- SDLP

The theft of cash machines is a crime that has affected many communities in Northern Ireland recently, with an upsurge in the number of ATMs being ripped from the walls of commuercial premises using diggers.

An SDLP representative has now warned that banks in rural areas may shut their doors due to a spate of robberies.

Eugene Reid's comments come after the latest attack, when a stolen digger ripped a cash machine from a shop in Ahoghill, County Antrim this morning, 01 April. The digger was then set alight outside the Brook Street business.

Mr Reid believes the actions of those responsible is threatening the bank network across such areas. He commented: "In recent years, rural branch closures have made life more difficult for rural communities who are having to travel for miles outside of their local area to access basic banking amenities.
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"The SDLP will meet with retailers and the PSNI in the coming weeks to explore ways in which new innovative security measures can be put in place to deter these gangs.

"I would appeal to the wider community to report any additional information they may have about last night's ATM robbery to the PSNI."

The PSNI's organised crime branch allocated a team of detectives to investigate such thefts as a result of the recent upsurge.

Construction firms or those using plant machinery are urged to secure their equipment over evenings and weekends to help deter would-be criminals.

Retail NI has condemned the most recent attack on its member business in Ahoghill. Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said the attack on an independent local retailer is "disgraceful".

He added: "If the criminal gangs behind these ATM robberies are not stopped there is a real danger many rural communities will lose local access to cash. They are attacking local family-owned small businesses which are the backbone of the rural economy, providing an invaluable service to the local community.

"The gangs behind these attacks need to be caught and put in jail for a very long time."


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