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Friday 20 September 2019

Cross-Border action will help bring ATM raiders to justice, says Flanagan

Cash grab: Gardaí at the scene of the ATM raid in Castleblayney last week.
Cash grab: Gardaí at the scene of the ATM raid in Castleblayney last week. PHOTO: STEVE HUMPHREYS
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said co-operation between the PSNI and gardaí was a key priority following 11 ATM raids on both sides of the Border this year.

The latest raid, in which a digger was used to rip an ATM from the wall before it was taken from the scene, was carried out in Dungiven, Co Derry, on Sunday morning.

It is the most recent in a series of similar thefts of cash machines, which police agencies believe could have been carried out by up to three separate criminal gangs.

In total, 11 ATMs have been stolen from Cavan and Monaghan, as well as Antrim, Down, Fermanagh, Armagh, Tyrone and Derry since the start of the year.

There have been 14 such thefts since March last year.

Mr Flanagan said the thefts were "not victimless crimes" and that it was "imperative" they were stopped.

"Both An Garda Síochána and the PSNI are conducting investigations into these raids, and I am confident they will bring the perpetrators to justice," Mr Flanagan said.

"There is a joint cross-Border policing strategy operated between the two services, which covers the range of policing activities and contains a series of initiatives in which both police services are actively engaged.

"Ensuring that this type of co-operation can continue into the future is a key priority for me and my department, in any Brexit outcome," he added.

In reaction to criticism of the PSNI following the ATM thefts, one officer said they could not predict which cash machine would be targeted next.

"I could sit for hours at an ATM, but no sooner am I round the corner than a team of crooks arrive," the Craigavon officer said.

"The idea that we can watch them 24/7 is pure fiction."

Investigators suspect that as many as three gangs operating separately could be involved in the ATM thefts in recent months.

Detective Chief Inspector David Henderson said they were looking at "several gangs" being involved in the crimes.

One of these cross-Border gangs under investigation is a crime group based in south Armagh/north Louth and is led by a suspect in the murder of Det Gda Adrian Donohoe.

The gang leader has never been arrested for the heroic garda's murder in 2013, but is a chief suspect in the killing.

This individual's group is being investigated for involvement in an ATM theft in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, last week as well as another raid across the Border.

Despite the significant number of ATM thefts, no arrests have been made by the PSNI or gardaí investigating the crimes.

Irish Independent

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