Tuesday 15 October 2019

Tom Brady: 'Officers face painstaking task to smash the gangs behind latest spate of thefts'

The scene of an ATM robbery in Kells. Photo: Collins
The scene of an ATM robbery in Kells. Photo: Collins
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

A decade ago, ATM thefts were very much in vogue among the criminal fraternity, particularly in the Border region.

Spurred on by its successes and the apparent failure of police to curb its exploits, one group of raiders became more daring and extended their operations into Munster.

When they were finally caught in November 2010, they were in Castleisland, Co Kerry, where the gang had failed to take away the ATM with €234,000 in cash after the bucket of the excavator was too small to lift the ATM onto the back of a trailer.

Two men from Co Down were arrested following a chase and sentenced to six years imprisonment. The alleged gang leader, Cyril McGuinness, from Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, was arrested in Listowel and questioned about the botched raid.

He was later extradited to Belgium where he had been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for the theft of construction and farm machinery. The ATM thefts abated after that but have returned in recent months with raids in Monaghan, Cavan, Meath, Down, Antrim, Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said last week that gardaí and the PSNI had dealt with this "very concerning trend" through working with the industry itself and receiving support from local communities.

It is not likely that either dissident republican or loyalist paramilitary factions are organising the ATM thefts, but some suspected members are thought to have individual links to terrorists.

It will be a painstaking exercise but hopefully the forensic material being collected in the wake of the raids, along with CCTV footage and police intelligence will combine to produce the evidence necessary to successfully prosecute those involved.

Irish Independent

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