Thieves hunted over cash machine raids across South Yorkshire
Cash machines have been ripped out of walls of five banks and businesses across South Yorkshire over the last few months - with 25 offences reported across the region in total.
The raids, all under investigation by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, have led to the theft of 'significant amounts of cash'.
There have been five raids in South Yorkshire, 11 in West Yorkshire, five in Humberside and four in North Yorkshire since July 2017.
On each occasion crooks have either used plant machinery to demolish walls and rip the machines out or they have caused an explosion with a flammable gas to access them.
Last month a JCB forklift was used to steal the ATM from the Halifax Bank in Church Street, Armthorpe, Doncaster, in an early morning raid.
The machine was then loaded onto the back of a van, which drove off from the scene.
One week later, in almost identical circumstances, an ATM was stolen from a shop in Crowle, Humberside.
Again, a forklift was used to rip the cash machine from the wall of the High Street store.
It was loaded into a white transit van, which was later torched.
Detective Chief Inspector, Stuart Spencer, of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, said lives were being put at risk by the thieves.
“Across the Yorkshire and Humber region, we have witnessed an emerging trend of ATM machines thefts from commercial premises where significant amounts of cash have been stolen," he said.
“In some instances, flammable gas is ignited to ‘blow out’ the housing of the ATM, causing significant structural damage. Clearly this has a potential to be life threatening to anyone in the near vicinity.
“Another method used is where ATMs are ripped out from their housing using stolen plant machinery, before they are taken away in a stolen commercial vehicle and emptied elsewhere."
He said the raids tend to be committed in the early hours and that 'quiet, secluded, outlying villages' have been hit along with 'more populated locations'.
“The Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit is taking this extremely seriously and is currently working with colleagues from all the four police forces concerned, as well as private industry. We are also learning from similar offending that has been investigated by colleagues nationally," the DCI added.
“Under this partnership, we are developing intelligence and an investigation strategy, using both overt and covert police tactics, in order to identify and arrest those responsible.
“I would ask the public to be aware of the potential signs of this crime type, particularly in relation to the movement of farm and plant material in the early hours of the morning. Likewise, if you see any suspicious behaviour around ATMs in the early hours, please report it immediately to the police.
“In addition, I would call upon those employed in the filling of ATMs to be extra vigilant, especially if it is clear that you are being watched closely whilst undertaking your work."
Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.