ATM raiders are highly dangerous people and deserve long jail terms

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The thieving thugs who stole an ATM machine in Moira at the weekend are deserving of long prison sentences if they ever get caught.

As the local DUP politician Allan Ewart said, using a digger to ram into a building is a very dangerous thing to do around petrol.

But even if there was no such risk from nearby fuel, driving JCB machinery into a building so that part of its wall collapses is highly perilous, both for the structure and for anyone who might be in the vicinity.

This is armed robbery of the most grave kind, given that the criminals are equipped with an exceptionally powerful weapon. The attack is the third such robbery in Northern Ireland recent days.

This particular ATM at a Spar store on the Glenavy Road is well used and provides an important service.

Photographs of the aftermath of the scene showed men in forensic outfits searching the scene. It is to be hoped that ever improving science helps to bring them closer to identifying the culprits.

ATM thefts are by no means unique to Northern Ireland, and seem to be increasingly attractive to thieves, given the difficulties they face in getting money at a time of diminishing use of cash and when vehicles have become increasingly hard to steal without access to the keys.

No doubt experts around the world are working on methods to make ATMs less vulnerable to theft, including tracking technology and dyes and other innovations.

But even if that is so, the stark evidence is that there are groups of criminals who are not yet deterred from embarking on cash heists that involve these extreme levels of violence.

Anyone who is prepared to engage in such an operation at any level is highly dangerous.

This is yet another sphere of wrongdoing, stretching all the way up to homicide, in which prison terms need to get tougher. If that means we need more jail cells, so be it.