By Michael Keaveny
Speaking at the scene of this morning's audacious ATM robberies, Superintendent Dermot O'Conner said: "This crime was an organised, planned attack on the community of Kells. This crime is not a victimless crime and will have a significant impact on the community of Kells and the local area over this Easter Bank Holiday weekend. I appeal to the local and wider community to support An Garda Síochána and to provide any information to bring these criminals to justice".
It's estimated that as much E200,000 may have been taken in the raids that last only as long as four minutes.
At a media briefing at the scene of the raids, Supt O'Connor told reporters: "Gardai in Kells received a call in relation to a theft of an ATM that was in progress here in John St in Kells. Gardai responded immediately arriving at the scene within minutes. On their arrival they found that two ATM premises had been ripped from bank premises here on John St and they established that those involved had left the scene in two vehicles.
"They also found an excavator parked here at John St and a JCB Fasttrack tractor with a trailer attached. Our inquiries so far have established that the excavator was stolen overnight from a field overnight in Meath and the JCB Fasttrack and trailer were stolen, also overnight from the Louth area. The persons involved left the scene in what is described as a dark colour crew cab jeep and a dark colured Volkswagon car. A full investigation is underway and the scene is being technically examined and an incident room has been set up here in Kells Garda station. We are appealing to witnesses in relation to these thefts. The first appeal is to anybody in the Kells area between 3.30am and 4.20am who noticed anything to contact us."
Supt Dermot O'Connor at Kells Garda station
"We also appeal to any person with any knowledge or any information in relation to these crimes to contact us in Kells Garda station. Also I'm appealing to anybody who was travelling from Ardee and Kells on the N52 and any roads adjoining it in the early hours of this morning or anybody who noticed any suspicious material or any heavy plant machinery on the move to contact us or if any of those persons have dash cam footage, we're particularly interested in that.
"This was a well-planned and sophisticated, organised crime, it has ripped the heart out of this small community in Kells on an Easter Bank Holiday weekend. A crime such as this affects the local busnisses and community and we're appealing to the local community to support us into our investigation into these thefts. We can be contacted in Kells Garda station on 046) 928 0820 or indeed the Garda Confidential line on 1800666111."
When asked why the Gardai weren't able to intercept the thieves despite the station only being 550m Supt O'Connor said:
"The Gardai responded within minutes, such was the professional nature in which the crimes were carried out the theives had already left the area. He also said the vehicles in which the thieves left travelled out the Maudlin road from Kells towards Carlanstown."
"While attempts were made to impede the Gardai attending the scene with homemade spikes "it did not have any affect on the garda response to the incident".
It is reported that a local business owner heard noise caused by the robbery at 3.25 am, who witnessed diggers going by and that the Gardai didn't respond until a full hour later, when they recived the call at 4.20am.
There was no indication as to how much cash may have been in the two ATMs.