'Lock up your diggers' - Gardai appeal to heavy plant machinery owners in wake of Kells ATM robberies

Story by Gavan Becton

Friday, 19th April, 2019 4:04pm

'Lock up your diggers' - Gardai appeal to heavy plant machinery owners in wake of Kells ATM robberies

Machinery used in the ATM heist

Gardaí are appealing to anyone who owns or uses heavy plant machinery to please take every possible step to secure and immobilise their vehicles. 
The move comes in the wake of two ATM robberies in Kells in the early hours of Good Friday morning as well as two north of the border.

In a statement released today just hours after diggers and low-loaders were used in the John St bank raids, Gardai were asking heavy duty and construction vehicle owners to ensure they are stored securely and not left in an area that is easily accessible overnight.

WATCH: Heritage town left in shock after ATM robberies

"If criminal groups cannot steal diggers and other similar machinery, they cannot tear out ATMs. This will also mean that these expensive pieces of machinery are not destroyed or burnt out after they are stolen.

"We also appeal to members of the public who see any unusual movement of plant machinery, commercial jeeps, or pickup trucks during night time hours to report such activity immediately to An Garda Siochana. Do not assume somebody else has already made the call. You can also contact the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or Crimestoppers on 1800 250 025.

Meanwhile Labour local election candidate Aaron Byrne has called for an urgent review of Garda resourcing and said the brazen theft this morning of two ATMs from the centre of Kells raises serious questions about Garda resources in North Meath

GALLERY: Kells ATM Robberies in Pictures

“The theft took place less than 500m from the Garda station and yet this acted as no deterrent to the thieves. Residents are now asking serious questions about readiness and response times from the station and what that means for their security and safety. The number of Gardai in the station is greatly reduced since the relocation of the Traffic Corp to elsewhere in the County and it seems that those Gardai remaining in Kells are not adequately supported in order to be able to carry out their duties”.

“Further details release today further outline how sophisticated this theft was and the Minister and the Dept. of Justice must now be held to account on how they can continue to under-resource rural Garda stations like Kells. The station in Kells covers a huge area of North Meath including Athboy and Oldcastle and we are now seeing the consequences of the stretching of those resources.”.  

“The minister must now look at an increase of funding and manpower in Kells and the rest of North Meath including the re-opening of stations on a 24 hour basis in towns like Athboy and Oldcastle.”

Auctioneer Hugh Morris' business is on the corner of John St. "It's a big, big shock, this is going to have a real dramatic effect on the businesseses and people of Kells this weekend. This is a commuter belt town and services 8,000 people and for the two major banking institutions to be hit over this holiday weekend is just shocking. It's hard to believe that they would go in to a large town like this and do this. The last time we saw anything like this was when the three banks in the town were robbed in 1979 on the same day."

President of the Meath Chamber of Commerce said he was shocked by the robberies. "Everyone is stunned to think this could happen in this quiet town of ours and the effect it will have on the local businesses and community. This is about the 15th such incident involving ATM's there needs to be greater collaboration between the Gardai and PSNI. There'll be no business done on this street today but the wider concern is the the availabilty of the money using the machines and this type of weekend kells would be as busy as any major town in the country so it's really devastating.

Cllrs Sean Drew said the ATM robberies have serious implications and raise a number of questions that need to be answered.

"The inconvenience for people that utilized  either of these two ATMs for their cash withdrawals will have a resulting negative impact on local businesses

"The individuals/organizations that are undertaking these robberies are criminals who need to be caught and jailed. What further criminal activities are being funded by these robberies? 

"I have consistently raised my concerns on the lack of Garda numbers and resources in the Kells and general North Meath area. These crimes are likely to continue and increase until the Gardai in our area are properly resourced." 

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