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Gang rip ATM from wall then panic and dump it

GARDAI are hunting a gang who made off with a bank's cash machine today – but still left empty-handed.

The criminals struck at 5.30am, smashing a gaping hole in the Bank of Ireland branch in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.

In what was a well-planned operation, the gang used a Komatsu PC130 digger to smash the hole in the wall and steal the ATM from the bank in Teeling Street.

The crime took place only 150 metres from a part-time garda station that was closed at the time.



The machine was then loaded on to a trailer and driven off behind a white van.

The stolen digger was left at the scene of the crime, while the trailer, van and the unopened ATM were found dumped near Carrowneden, 15km away.

Gardai raced to the scene from Sligo town within minutes of the theft.

Officers believe the gang panicked and dumped the machine without taking any cash from it.

"It looks like they took fright because patrol cars were in the area very quickly," said one senior officer.

Councillor Jerry Lundy said the people of Tubbercurry were "in absolute shock" at the crime.

Residents have campaigned for several years to have the town's garda station made full-time.

"Nothing like this every happens in Tubbercurry," said Mr Lundy.

"The gardai in the town and in the county do a fabulous job, but they are so short of resources that criminals will take opportunities like this.

"It was a very brazen incident and we are fortunate this time that the thieves got away empty-handed."

However, the Fianna Fail councillor added: "It's open season for criminals in rural Ireland now.

"The Government is closing garda stations all over the place and handing back the buildings to the communities. The communities want them all right, but with gardai still inside them."