Some ATMs cashed up without security measures, gardaí warn

Gardaí believe spate of ATM thefts motivated by cash being easily accessed

The scene in Dungiven, Co Derry, after a cash machine was ripped from a wall and stolen in the latest of a spate of ATM thefts. Photograph: David Young/ PA Wire

The scene in Dungiven, Co Derry, after a cash machine was ripped from a wall and stolen in the latest of a spate of ATM thefts. Photograph: David Young/ PA Wire

 

Senior Garda officers are concerned some ATMs in the Republic are being loaded with consignments of cash which are not fitted with the full range of available security measures.

The concerns come amid a spate of incidents in Border areas in recent months in which thieves have used diggers to rip ATMs out of walls. There have been at least eight such thefts in the region this year.

The private cash in transit sector, which makes cash deliveries and collections and also fills many ATMs, loads cash into the machines in cassette-style cartridges, most of which are fitted with devices that explode ink if they are forced open.

The scene at Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh, following the theft. Photograph: PSNI
The scene at Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh, following an ATM theft last month. File photograph: PSNI

However, in some cases financial institutions and even larger retailers are able to fill ATMs on their premises using their own cash. There is now concern that this is being done more frequently using cartridges without the special security measures.

Gardaí now believe some of the gangs behind the recent ATM thefts were motivated by the knowledge that cash in some machines can be easily accessed once they escape the robbery scene with the machines.

A PSNI photograph of a stolen machine that was used in at attempt to remove an ATM from a shop in Co Tyrone.
A PSNI photograph of a stolen machine that was used in at attempt to remove an ATM from a shop in Co Tyrone.

A number of sources also believed some gangs had invested a significant amount of time cleaning ink from notes in those cases where ATMs fitted with the exploding ink devices were stolen.

They say there is evidence internationally that this has been the case even when so-called “smart dyes” are used; ink or dye that is invisible until examined with specialist devices.

An ATM was stolen from the wall of a bank on Main Street, Kingscourt, Co Cavan. Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick
An ATM was stolen from the wall of a bank on Main Street, Kingscourt, Co Cavan, also last month. File photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick

“In some countries they are now using glue instead of ink; the glue explodes and sticks all the notes together,” said one Garda source. “We may have to have a look at that [in Ireland] especially as we seem to be into a series of these robberies now.”

DNA evidence

In the latest incident, a cash machine at a filling station in Dungiven in Co Derry was stolen on Saturday. The thieves used a digger stolen from a nearby work site to rip the ATM from the wall. The digger was located at the scene and detectives are hoping they can recover DNA evidence.

Last week, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said several criminal gangs were behind the series of raids, with paramilitaries potentially cashing in on some of the proceeds.

PSNI Det Insp Richard Thornton appealed for witnesses to come forward.

“As in all of these ATM thefts, the actions of these criminals have not only caused immediate financial harm to the business targeted, but they have understandably caused fear in the community and impacted upon a vital service many local people rely on.

An ATM was taken from the wall of a Bank of Ireland in Ballybay, Co Monaghan ion the early hours of Sunday. Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick.
In this incident, an ATM was taken from a Bank of Ireland in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, in the early hours of Sunday, December 16th, 2018. File photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick

“We are doing all we can to catch the people responsible – it is a key priority for us – however, I want to reiterate that the key to stopping these crimes and getting ahead of these criminals is information from the public.

“We need people to report anything suspicious, including seeing any unusual activity or people in areas close to ATMs. For example, if you hear machinery late at night or in the early hours, please let us know. If you see any cars being driven in a suspicious manner close to where ATMs are located, please let us know.

“No matter how insignificant you think it is, call us and we will investigate. It could be key to catching the criminals responsible.” – Additional Reporting PA