Retailers in Northern Ireland could start to remove ATMs from their premises because of the number of attacks causing huge damage to buildings.

This was the warning from Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Retail NI trade association, following a raid at a filling station just a day after a similar incident at an Asda store.

An ATM was taken from Spar store at the BP-branded filling station on the Glenavy Road, near Moira, shortly after 3:05am on Saturday February 2.

A digger, stolen from a nearby building site, was used to rip the ATM from the wall of the building and was then set alight. The attack on the ATM caused extensive damage to the wall of the building the roof of the garage was badly damaged by the fire.

Commenting on the latest theft Roberts said: “This is a disgraceful attack on one of our members. It is has caused extensive damage to a local retailer that provides an invaluable service to the local community.”

“With three ATM robberies in a matter of days, these attacks are now a major problem for local retailers. Retail NI will be seeking a an urgent meeting with PSNI senior officers to press for a taskforce to be established to tackle these criminal gangs.

“With so many bank branch closures in rural towns and villages in recent years, our members’ ATMs provide an invaluable service to their local communities.

“There is a real danger our members could start to remove these ATMs if these attacks continue.”