Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Police urge rural shop owners to review security after spate of burglaries

Police are warning shop owners throughout the district – especially those with stand alone ATM machines – to carry out a review of their crime prevention measures following a spate of burglaries at rural commercial premises in south Armagh and south Down this month.

Detective Sergeant James Johnston revealed that ATM machines were targeted in all of the recent break-ins.

The latest incident occurred overnight on Friday (6th July) with thieves breaking into premises on the Camlough Road in Newry. The alarm was disabled and an ATM machine was smashed open.  A sum of cash was taken, as well as a quantity of cigarettes.

According to the detective, three similar incidents have occurred in the Newry area since the beginning of July and police are investigating a possible link between the incidents, the first of which occurred overnight on Saturday 30th June in  a shop on Main Street in Forkhill. Police say an alarm was activated at the premises at around 2.45am and that ladders owned by the shop were used by the suspects to gain entry. The suspects fled the scene after the alarm sounded.

Three nights later, at around 1am on Wednesday 4th July, three unknown males forced entry into a filling station on the Dublin Road in Newry. The gang attempted to break into an ATM machine in the premises but were disturbed by police activity in the area shortly after 3am and fled the scene empty-handed.

The following morning (Thursday 5th July) at around 1am, shop premises on the Edenappa Road in Jonesborough were targeted.  The suspects cut electricity and phone lines in the area before making an unsuccessful attempt to gain entry.

“Police are investigating the possibility that all of these incidents are linked,” said Detective Sergeant Johnston.

“One line of enquiry is that these premises are being targeted because they have stand-alone ATMs on site, and it is believed that these are the offenders’ primary target.

“I would advise businesses to regularly review their crime prevention measures to minimise their risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Advising shop owners of some simple security measures, Detective Sergeant Johnston said minimum cash should be kept on commercial premises. 

“Leave the till empty and open overnight. If an ATM is a self-fill option, reconsider having a managed machine or the use of a Cash Security Company.”

The police officer said signs stating clearly that minimal cash is in tills or ATMs or that time delay safes are used which employees cannot access may act as a deterrent.   He also advised against counting cash in public view, or filling ATMs in opening hours and reiterated the importance of checking all security equipment including CCTV and alarms are working properly and that ladders or items which may assist access to premises are locked away

“If you saw any suspicious activity in the Camlough Road areaon Friday night or Saturday morning, please get in touch with us on 101, quoting reference number 330 of 6/7/18,” added the PSNI officer. 

“More generally, I would encourage people who live close to rural businesses like filling stations and local shops to tell police immediately if they see any unusual activity or people in the area.  For example, if you hear machinery late at night or in the early hours please let us know.  Report any power outages close to rural commercial premises during the hours of darkness via 101.  Also, if you see people or vehicles appearing to pay particular attention to certain premises, call police on 101. In an emergency or if you suspect a crime is in progress, dial 999.”