In the early hours of Tuesday morning thieves broke into a shop on the Crossgar Road in Ballynahinch and removed a safe and an ATM which police say contained “a substantial amount of money”.
The News Letter is aware of a number of instances in the past two months where thieves have gained access to small businesses in the early hours of the morning and attempted to steal or empty ATMs.
In light of the spate, Chris Sloan, PSNI’s head of crime prevention, warned owners to ensure minimum cash is kept on the premises, and if an ATM is a ‘self-fill’ option, consider having a managed machine or using a cash security company. He also advised the checking of alarms and installation of CCTV equipment.
Roger Pollen, who is head of external affairs at Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) NI, said: “Business crime is not victimless, it affects individuals and families who are left to pick up the pieces after a crime is committed.”
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He explained why small businesses install ATMs: “In the context of closure of nearly a quarter of Northern Ireland bank branches recently, plus a threat to the continued viability of free to use ATMs in certain areas, it is no surprise that many businesses have decided to use in-store ATMs, so cash can still be accessed.
“They also have a use in helping small firms generate income, and reduce transaction costs as bank lodgements have to be made less frequently.”
He added: “Such crimes which target in-store ATMs do not just impact on the business owners and their families, but on the communities which they serve.”
Over the past few months the number of burglaries targeting small shops and businesses with in-store ATMs appear to have increased with reports in Aghalee, Crumlin, Mayobridge, Ballymena and Keady during March and April.