A GANG who tried to blow up an ATM at a southside shopping centre fled empty-handed after causing extensive damage to the machine but failing to open it.
The highly organised gang used gas to try and blow the cash machine open at 4am at the Knocklyon Shopping Centre.
Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang and then seeing a group of up to four men try to cut open the steel door that leads to the back of the cash machine.
A senior source told The Herald that officers are hunting a gang of between four and six people.
It also emerged this morning that the raiders sprayed black paint on the screen of the machine, as well as several CCTV cameras, before the attempt to blow up the ATM in order to avoid being recorded.
The Banklink machine was destroyed in the explosion, but the gang crucially failed to open its strong safe and get any cash from inside it.
This morning, the device that holds the slot where the cash is dispensed from could be seen hanging by a cable after the ATM housing was blown apart.
The keypad used to insert PIN numbers was also blown from its normal position.
Around the corner the steel door that allows security personnel entry to the back of the machine was also damaged.
Marks could be seen where a concrete saw was used to try to cut through the three bolts after the door frame had been bent back to allow access.
Gardai say the attempt to rob the machine triggered an alarm, and that when they arrived there was extensive damage caused, but the gang had fled the centre where SuperValu is the anchor tenant.
“Previous attempts to steal ATMs have involved the use of heavy equipment such as diggers, but in this instance it seems butane gas was pumped into the machine after a hole was drilled in it.
“It is only the second known case of this occurring in Ireland,” said one source.
“But it appears the plan backfired and no money was taken. However, there was a lot of damage done in the process,” the source added.
The method of using gas to blow up an ATM mirrors a similar case in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford in February in which €34,000 was stolen.
In that instance gardai were fired upon as the gang fled after exploding the machine at the Ulster Bank on Rafter Street in the town.
The explosion could be heard from the nearby Garda station and the gang had to abort the attempt after a Garda patrol car arrived at the scene.