Police officers who chased cash machine thieves in Ballymena early this morning didn’t make any arrests as the culprits “had already fled across fields in the darkness and out of sight”, the PSNI has said.
Police were responding to comments from North Antrim MLA Jim Allister, who questioned how the thieves, who used a digger to rip two ATMs from the wall of a supermarket on Larne Link Road, were able to avoid capture after abandoning their pick-up vehicle and the stolen cash machines.
Mr Allister said: “While it is welcome that another audacious ATM theft in the Ballymena area has been thwarted to the extent that the police recovered the machines, the obvious question to which I will be expecting an answer to is how were the robbers able to escape? If the police caught up with them, were there not enough personnel available to fully deal with the situation?”
The TUV leader added: “These robberies require a vigorous and fully manned response.”
Responding, a PSNI spokesperson said: “Officers were alerted to the theft at around 3am this morning. A nearby police patrol responded and from a distance spotted the ATMs being driven away from the area on the back of a pick-up. They followed along the route taken by the thieves and subsequently located the vehicle abandoned on the Woodside Road with the ATMs onboard. Unfortunately the thieves had already fled across fields in the darkness and out of sight.”
The incident in Ballymena was the latest in a spate of ATM thefts across Northern Ireland in recent months.