Petrol station forecourt roof torn down in Co Down ATM raid

Thieves used digger in bid to rip cash machine from wall of Carlisle’s filling station

Police in Co Down dealing with an attempted cash machine theft at a petrol station at Carlisles’ on the Belfast Road in Ballynahinch. Photograph: Pacemaker.

Police in Co Down dealing with an attempted cash machine theft at a petrol station at Carlisles’ on the Belfast Road in Ballynahinch. Photograph: Pacemaker.

 

A petrol station’s forecourt roof has been torn down in an attempted ATM robbery in Co Down during a weekend of attacks on cash machines in Northern Ireland.

An ATM was stolen from a health centre south of Belfast, and thieves attempted to take one from the Belfast City Hospital.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said it is too early to establish whether the thefts are linked.

Extensive damage was caused during the raid in Ballynahinch, which was reported to police at about 5.30am on Monday morning.

It is believed a bulldozer was used to try and rip the cash machine from the wall of Carlisle’s filling station and convenience store on Belfast Road.

The owner of the petrol station, Donna Carlisle, told BBC Radio Ulster that the thieves rammed the front of the shop to try and remove the ATM.

“They couldn’t get it so they went into the shop and took tills, took cigarettes,” she said.

“Then in a kerfuffle at the end the digger went into the canopy and the whole thing went down.”

She said the filling station would be closed for some time, and staff would now be unemployed for that period of time.

“It’s devastating,” she said. “You build a thing up and like that somebody can just take it away from you.”

Police in Co Down dealing with an attempted cash machine theft at a petrol station at Carlisles’ on the Belfast Road in Ballynahinch. Photograph: Pacemaker.
Police in Co Down dealing with an attempted cash machine theft at a petrol station at Carlisles’ on the Belfast Road in Ballynahinch. Photograph: Pacemaker.

A silver Volkswagen Passat, which matched the description of a car seen at the scene, was later found on fire in the Queen’s Park area of Saintfield, Co Down.

The Belfast Road was closed on Monday morning as police carried out their investigation, causing major disruption to rush-hour traffic.

Detective Inspector Richard Thornton said it was a “brazen and despicable act” which has caused serious disruption to the business community, and to people using the road.

Third attack

It was the third attack on an ATM in the North over the weekend.

The PSNI said an ATM was stolen from inside a health centre at Knockbracken Healthcare Park on the Saintfield Road near Belfast by thieves who forced their way into the premises at some time over the weekend.

The theft was discovered when staff arrived for work on Monday morning.

Det Insp Thornton made an appeal for witnesses or anyone with information to contact police.

“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,” he said.

Hospital attack

On Saturday night thieves also attempted to steal a cash machine from Belfast City Hospital.

In a statement, the PSNI said it had been reported that the suspects unsuccessfully attempted to remove the machine from a wall using using chains attached to a black Audi car.

A black or dark-coloured car was used later that night to ram the shutters of a number of business premises in several locations in Belfast and Lisburn.

The items stolen included a trailer, a cash drawer, a hard drive from a CCTV system and power tools.

The PSNI is investigating a link between Saturday night’s incidents, and said detectives are “particularly keen to hear from anyone who knows of the whereabouts of the black coloured Audi estate car or who was travelling in it.

“The actions of those involved in these incidents are reckless and police would appeal to anyone who observes a black coloured Audi estate car bearing damage to the bodywork to contact officers immediately by calling 999.”

Anyone with information can contact with PSNI on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

On Monday the PSNI also appealed for information in connection with an attempted ATM theft in Co Louth early on Saturday.

A sum of money was taken from the Bank of Ireland in Dunleer after a digger was used to remove the cash machine from the wall of the bank.

The police said a Massey Ferguson tractor and low loader which were used in the attack on the ATM machine were stolen from a property in the Concession Road area of Cullaville, south Armagh.

They were taken some time between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

The low loader was recovered at the scene and the tractor at Hacksballcross. Both have been returned to their owners. - Additional reporting PA