Digger gangs target Irish cash machines

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The Independent Online

Automatic cash machines in the Irish Republic have been hit by armed robberies, smash-and-grab raids that sometimes use heavy construction machinery, and industrial action.

Automatic cash machines in the Irish Republic have been hit by armed robberies, smash-and-grab raids that sometimes use heavy construction machinery, and industrial action.

In the latest incident earlier this week, robbers used a mechanical digger to rip an entire cash machine from the wall of a bank in Co Carlow. They lost the machine during a high-speed car chase with police. It was the fourth such attack in the Irish Republic in the past five weeks.

Several hundred ATMs have been put out of action as staff at the cash delivery company Brinks Allied have refused to put new security instructions into effect. The most controversial is a suggestion that staff should drive off in the delivery vehicles in the event of armed attack, perhaps leaving threatened crew members behind.

Many hours of talks involving the company and trade union representatives have failed to resolve the dispute, which has put more than 200 machines on the east coast out of action.

The dispute began as security firms attempted to tighten procedures after Dublin criminal gangs stepped up robberies of cash transit vans servicing the cash machines in and around the Irish capital. There have been almost 40 such incidents so far this year compared with 34 last year. Several million euros have been stolen.

Paramilitary involvement is not suspected. One security source said: "Young Dublin criminals trying to make a bit of handy money, and roaming around the country." Twenty-five detectives are working on "Operation Delivery", to catch the two gangs blamed for most of the crimes. There have been a number of arrests.

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