SENIOR police officers have praised the quick actions of the public who raised the alarm over an ATM theft in the early hours of this morning.
A massive police operation swung into action which led to the arrest of two men and the recovery of the stolen ATM machine.
A stolen digger used to extract the machine from a petrol station on Tully Road at Nutts Corner in Co Antrim was found burned out nearby.
Detective Superintendent Rachel Shields said: “During the early hours of this morning police arrested two men following the theft of the cash machine from a service station at Nutts Corner.
“At around 3.30am we received reports from a number of vigilant members of the public that a digger was being used to remove an ATM from the premises on the Tully Road.
“We immediately directed a significant number of resources to the area.
“Two men, aged 26 and 31, were detained and remain in custody being questioned on suspicion of theft and a number of other offences.
“It was as a result of this information from the public that we were able to make these arrests and also recover the stolen ATM.
“I would like to thank the local people and also take this opportunity to renew our appeal for any suspicious activity noticed around ATMs or building sites to be reported to police on 999.
“I want to remind anyone who owns or uses heavy plant machinery to take every possible step to secure and immobilise them.
“If criminals cannot steal diggers, they cannot tear out ATMs.
“This will also mean that these expensive pieces of machinery are not destroyed or burnt out.
“I would also like to thank those living and working in the Tully Road and Nutt’s Corner area as well as commuters travelling this morning for their patience as I know road closures – which are vital to enable us to gather vital evidence – cause inconvenience.
“This morning’s arrests demonstrate how the community and police can successfully work together to tackle crime.
“However, this does not mean we will be complacent as we recognise there are a number of gangs carrying out these attacks on ATMs and the threat of more thefts is very real.
“Every single one of these attacks impacts the community significantly – denying access to money and on many occasions causing inconvenience as the shop or filling station is forced to close for repair.
“We will continue to do all we can to catch those responsible.
“Tonight again we will have local police patrolling areas which could be vulnerable to an attack and detectives remain dedicated to investigating the thefts that have taken place.
“I assure you this remains a key priority for police.
“Anyone with information that could help us identify and apprehend those responsible can contact the dedicated team on 101.
“Or alternatively information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”