ATM thefts: Cash machine ripped from wall in Bushmills is recovered

Robbery is ninth such attack in Northern Ireland since start of the year

An ATM stolen in Bushmills, Co Antrim, early on Tuesday morning when it was ripped from a shop wall in the town has been recovered.

It is as yet unclear whether money was taken from the machine before it was recovered. This will not be clarified until the cash dispenser was more fully examined, it is understood.

A gang used a digger stolen from a nearby farm to dislodge the ATM machine, the latest in a string of such thefts in Northern Ireland.

The PSNI are coming under increased political, business and community pressure to crack down on gangs responsible for the growing number of such thefts.


This is the ninth such attack since the start of the year in Northern Ireland. Since January there were ATM thefts in Moira, Co Down; Antrim town where two machines were taken; Omagh and Dungannon in Co Tyrone; Newtownabbey in Co Antrim; Irvinestown in Co Fermanagh; Ahoghill, Co Antrim, Dungiven, Co Derry and now Bushmills.

Towns in the South close to the Border such as Ballybay, Co Monaghan, Kingscourt, Co Cavan and Castleblayney, Co Monaghan have also seen ATM thefts.

It is estimated that each robbery takes just a matter of minutes and that at least two gangs are involved.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Dunny McCubbin said he understood the concern about the thefts. “These criminals have not only caused immediate financial harm to the business that was targeted, but they have caused devastation to the local community,” he said.

“We are doing all we can to catch the people responsible and stop these attacks,” he added.

“Last month we increased the amount of resources dedicated to tackle this issue and local police patrols are actively patrolling vulnerable and high risk locations. We also continue to work with partners in the banking and retail sectors regarding crime prevention,” he said.

Special unit

This latest incident happened in the Market Square in Bushmills. After the raid the digger and a tractor which was also stolen from a nearby farm were set on fire with local fire crews called to extinguish the blaze.

While the PSNI has set up a special unit to tackle such crime the thefts are continuing on a regular basis.

The DUP North Antrim Assembly member Mervyn Storey said that while "everyone understands the difficulties in tackling this spate of thefts there is an urgent need to ensure those responsible are brought to justice".

“The theft of ATM machines is not just hitting the heart of those communities directly affected but putting pressure on other shop owners who fear their premises may be next,” he said.

The North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said people were “beginning to ask how this gang can carry out these robberies unhindered”.

North Antrim Traditional Unionist Voice MLA Jim Allister complained that a "paucity of policing in North Antrim" was "making life easy for the criminals".

He said that after the recent ATM theft in Ahoghill, Co Antrim he had expected an increase in police surveillance and patrols. “But once more the criminals are winning. This is not good enough,” said Mr Allister.

Cyril Quigg, a local man and a TUV candidate in next month's local elections said the "derelict police station in our Main Street in Bushmills is an advert to the criminals of how easy crime has become".

“The local community is being let down badly by an over centralised policing policy. Meanwhile, the criminals are laughing all the way to their next heist,” said Mr Quigg.

Glyn Roberts of Retail NI, which represents small businesses, said every ATM robbery brought rural Northern Ireland closer to becoming a cash-free zone with many shop owners considering removing their ATMs for fear of their shops being smashed up.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times