Police have stepped up patrols across Mid Ulster in an effort to deter the gang behind a spate of ATM thefts.
Following Sunday’s theft of a cash machine in Dungiven, police have been out in force, particularly in the south Derry area, stopping vehicles and calling at filling stations which provide ATMs.
Some filling stations have increased security measures around the machines, including surrounding them with concrete blocks in order to prevent them being torn from the wall.
Magherafelt PSNI appealed on social media for the public to help them.
“We’re well aware of your concerns about ATM thefts, we’re currently (and have been) operating extra crews around the clock carrying out patrols and checkpoints across our patch,” they said in a post.
“This district is a very enjoyable area to police because of the great relationship between us and yourselves. We, like you, are proud of this area and we won’t tolerate outsiders coming in and wrecking the place.
“We’ll continue to pro-actively patrol and we make no apologies for carrying out vehicle checkpoints and stop and searches - but, yes there’s a but - we also need you to stay alert and vigilant.
“If you see something suspicious, call us. That vehicle you don’t recognise that’s parked up? Call us. The car that’s passed a few times? Call us.”
Mid Ulster DUP MLA Keith Buchanan said police must ensure adequate resources are focused on this crime.
Mr Buchanan was part of a DUP delegation which met with the PSNI’s ATM taskforce on Monday to discuss the issue.
He said, “This incident in Dungiven is the latest were a business has been severely disrupted because of the actions of a criminal gang. Whilst we were able to take some reassurance from the PSNI following our meeting, the prevalence of attacks on businesses is of real concern.
“Police must ensure that adequate resources are focused on this crime which is disproportionately impacting upon rural communities. These are areas where many have already seen their local bank branch close, and ATM machines are the only source available to access their money. DUP Policing Board members will meet the Chief Constable later this week and the spate of ATM thefts is something we will raise during that meeting.
“It is absolutely vital that everyone in the community plays their part. In particular, anyone with heavy construction machinery must ensure that it is properly secured. The theft of equipment used to carry out these raids has a further impact upon local business.”
He added that anyone who has witnessed anything suspicious should also assist the police and help bring those responsible to justice.