Failed heist almost breaks the bank

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The Independent Online
Gardai in Galway are anxious to talk to a modern-day Butch Cassidy or a budding Smith and Jones after an ill-fated early morning heist yesterday that literally broke the bank.

The robbers arrived at 4am at the Ulster Bank on Galway's Tuam Road without PIN numbers but equipped with a mechanical loader, and seeking a large and urgent withdrawal above the IRpounds 200 (pounds 210) limit permitted by the bank's cash dispensing machine.

Their plan was to extract the cash dispenser from the wall but the hapless thieves succeeded in virtually demolishing the bank building. The objects of their desire, the cash machine and the adjacent night safe, refused to budge and the thieves had to admit defeat. Abandoning their stolen Volvo CAT dumper at the scene, they made off in a waiting car.

Gardai said the mechanical loader used by the gang had done "serious structural damage" to the bank, which might have to be demolished and rebuilt. Meanwhile NCR, manufacturers of the Fort-Knox cash dispenser were giving themselves a pat on the back.

The popularity of JCB-type diggers in the armed robbery business has grown following the widespread deployment of security guards in Irish bank branches. This was a response to an epidemic of attacks on banks and post offices in the early Eighties, fuelled by both increasing availability of guns to criminals and paramilitary groups' need for ready cash.

Several years ago Dublin criminals achieved a spectacular success when they attacked a security van carrying a large cash consignment on the Navan Road on the city's north-side. Since then there have been other attempts to make off with cash dispensers on both sides of the Irish Sea.