Gangs get rid of tainted bank notes in cash machines
Criminals are trying to offload bank notes that have been stained with dye by laundering them through cash machines.
The notes are stained when stolen cash boxes are forced open without using the proper security code.
The money is usually stained red, bluish purple or green when the dye explodes to make it more difficult for criminals to dispose of their loot.
The move has acted as a temporary deterrent to gangs specialising in cash-in-transit raids.
However, they are now attempting to launder the money through ticket machines at car parks, at Irish Rail and Luas stops, air and sea ports and at vending machines.
An initiative to combat the laundering was launched yesterday by the gardai and the Irish Banking Federation.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Derek Byrne, who is in charge of the national support services, said a website, www.banknotewatch.ie, had been created to prevent criminals from profiting from the proceeds of raids and to reduce the risk of businesses becoming the victim of commercial robbery.
He said the website was an extremely useful tool that would not only keep interested parties up to date on the circulation of dye-stained notes, but would also carry valuable information on what anyone should do if offered or if they come into possession of stained notes.
Latest figures show there were 31 cash-in-transit robberies in 2011, 50 last year and 18 this year. These resulted in losses of €441,206, €1,313,187, and €339,515, respectively.
The number of notes being put back into circulation through the cash machines is so far thought to be relatively small, but officers fear the racket will grow.
Retailers with cash machines are being asked to ensure that they are covered by CCTV.
Assistant Commissioner Byrne appealed to anybody who came into possession of a dye-stained banknote to hand it in to a local bank or credit union.
He said checks on the note would immediately be carried out through the Central Bank and the person should be compensated within a week or two, if the authorities were satisfied they had received it innocently.
"The removal of these banknotes from circulation is in all our interests," he added.
Keith Cross, a representative of the Irish Banking Federation and chairman of the working group on the initiative, said the message from the campaign was that an ink-stained note was probably a stolen note.
They hoped the initiative would educate the public and retailers about the notes.