A FAILED attempt to steal a cash machine from outside the Spar shop in Killyclogher at the weekend could have ended up with the building on fire, the store’s owner has claimed.
Kieran McGinn has praised the quick response of “vigilant” neighbours and the emergency services for preventing further damage from occurring.
At around 4am on Sunday morning, thieves drove a stolen telehandler into the side of the Spar, on the Old Mountfield Road, Killyclogher in an attempt to dislodge the in-built cash machine from the wall.
Although the outside wall of the store was damaged, the inside of the building was unaffected.
Police believe the machinery was taken from a building site a short distance away. It was set on fire immediately after the incident.
Speaking to the Ulster Herald this week, Mr McGinn claimed that the building had been very close to catching fire following the arson attack on the plant machinery.
The business owner said he appreciated the viligance of the people living nearby the store, who had alerted the emergency services to what was happening.
Mr McGinn claimed that “very good, vigilant” neighbours had heard the noise and shouted at those involved, causing them to stop in their efforts to take the ATM.
He said that the shop’s neighbours had immediately contacted both the emergency services and himself.
Praising the “very quick” response of the PSNI and, in particular, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), Mr McGinn said, “It was a windy night and the building could have caught fire.”
Despite the extensive damage caused to the outside wall, the Spar was able to open as normal on Sunday morning.
Describing the ATM as a “very important part of the fabric of our community”, Mr McGinn said that he hoped it would be back up and running within the next week. Although they were unsuccessful on this occasion, the shop owner is concerned that whoever was responsible could come back.
“I was surprised that the ATM was targeted as there is a big built-up area around the shop. They are getting a lot more brazen,” he said.
Detectives investigating the incident are keen to trace the movements of a dark-coloured Volkswagen Passat which headed towards Cookstown.
Detective Sergeant Robinson said, “I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen this vehicle around this time, or prior to when the incident was reported, to call us.”
Local councillor, Anne-Marie Fitzgerald, has branded those behind the attempted ATM cash machine theft as “enemies of the community”.
She said, “This attempted theft, coming after the theft of the ATM from the Supervalu store in Fintona just before Christmas, is deeply worrying for local businesses who provide ATM facilities on their premises for the local communities which they serve.”
The PSNI have appealed to anyone who was in the Killyclogher area in the early hours of Sunday morning and saw any suspicious activity, or anyone who has information about this crime to call detectives in Omagh CID by calling 101, quoting reference 243 of 06/01/19.