A North Antrim village has been “tarnished” after thieves used a digger to rip an ATM from the wall of a shop.
The early morning attack in Market Square in Bushmills has devastated the local community, a businessman has said.
Geoffrey McKillop, owner of the Hip Chip as well as Lily’s Coffee Shop which was impacted by the theft which he believes happened around 3.30am.
“A digger and a JCB targeted the ATM beside Lily’s Coffee Shop and Ground Coffee Shop, smashed it out of the wall and placed it in a trailer then fled off,” he said.
“They have caused devastating damage to the building, also the impact that my business was closed all day, the other coffee shop had to postpone it’s opening.
“The image of the village has been really tarnished province wide because of what is happening. Not sure who is behind it, but we’d really like to see them caught and punished.
“It has a really negative impact on the village, that was the most popular ATM we had, they maybe have to go and do their shopping online, and tourists alike coming in on the cruise ships, this is Easter week, one of the busiest weeks of the year, they (tourists) now have the possibility of not having any access to currency.”
Police have a specialist team investigating the series of nine thefts of ATM since the start of the year.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts represents small businesses.
He said: “This is a shameless attack on a rural town which was preparing for a busy Easter weekend of visitors and tourists.
“The loss of this ATM means that the local community and tourists will be restricted in accessing cash.”
He said every ATM robbery brought rural Northern Ireland closer to being a cash-free zone.
Many Retail NI members are considering removing their ATMs for fear of their shops being smashed up.
He said Retail NI will be meeting the Policing Board on Thursday to discuss the police response and what more can be done.