18/11/2019

ATM Thieves Target Belfast & Ballynahinch Firms

Would-be ATM thieves struck at two locations in Belfast and Ballynahinch overnight, police have confirmed.

A bulldozer was used in a failed attempt to rip a cash dispenser from the wall of a petrol station on the Belfast Road, Ballynahinch at around 5.28am this morning, Monday 18 November.

Less than three hours later, an employee arrived at work on the Saintfield Road in Belfast to discover entry had been forced to the premises and an ATM machine stolen.

Police said it is unclear at this stage if both incidents are linked.

In the first attempt, those involved fled the scene empty handed after causing significant damage to the premises and roof of the forecourt. A silver-coloured Volkswagen Passat with a trailer was reportedly at the scene.

Police then received reports of a car, matching the description of the Passat, on fire in the Queens Park area of Saintfield at around 6.55am.

The Belfast Road remains closed this afternoon as police continue to deal with enquiries, causing widespread disruption in the area.

Detective Inspector Richard Thornton said: "This was a brazen and despicable attack by those involved who have caused serious disruption to the business affected and to its customers."

Meanwhile, a separate incident reported at around 7.55am saw a machine ripped from the inside of a premises in Belfast.
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Inspector Thornton continued: "We believe this occurred sometime between Friday evening (15th November) and the time it was reported to us. I would appeal to anyone who saw anything suspicious in this area to please contact us.

"ATM theft and attempted theft is not a victimless crime and these attacks cause untold loss and disruption to people and businesses, many of whom depend on their local ATM provision for access to cash. I want to take this opportunity to urge people to continue to be vigilant, and report any suspicious activity they see in their area.

"If your suspicions are aroused phone police immediately. Time is of the essence in catching these criminals. No matter how insignificant you think it is, your phone call to us could be key to catching the criminals responsible."

Police also issued an appeal regarding the failed theft in Ballynahinch. Anyone who was travelling on the Belfast Road this morning, between 5:15am and 5:30am, and who saw a Silver Passat, or who believes they saw this car travelling towards Saintfield between 5:30am and 7am is urged to contact detectives.

"Did you capture footage of this vehicle on your dash cam? If you saw any suspicious activity, including vehicles or persons, in these areas this morning please, pick up the phone and tell us what you know."

Anyone with information regarding either of these incidents is urged to call 101, quoting reference numbers 181 of 18/11/19 (Ballynahinch) or 252 of 18/11/19 (Belfast).

Details can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.



(JG/MH)

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