Detectives are investigating a number of reports of distraction thefts and attempted thefts at cash machines over the weekend.
Yesterday (Saturday 20th June) police received reports of incidents in counties Armagh, Down and Tyrone which they believe may be linked.
At 1:10pm, it was reported that a man using the ATM on Hill Street in Newry was approached by two males, one of whom is said to have distracted him, while the second man snatched the money he had withdrawn from the machine. The males then ran off. The suspects are described as being aged in their twenties, both of a slim build and both are reported to have worn dark-coloured tracksuits. One of the males wore a dark-coloured baseball hat.
Just after 2pm, it was reported that approximately 10 minutes earlier, a man accessing the ATM on Charlotte Street in Warrenpoint was approached by three males who asked him for money and then attempted to reach across him and grab cash. No money was taken. Later that afternoon, at 4:20pm, it was reported a woman using the same machine had been approached at 2pm by two males. One of them tried to jump in front of the woman and press the key pad of the machine while the other stood behind her. A sum of money was reported as having been taken.
At approximately 5:50pm, an attempted theft was reported involving a male who had used a cash machine on Upper English Street in Armagh at around 5:10pm. It was reported two males approached him. One of them tried to change the transaction amount, however, the males ran off when the customer shouted at them, drawing attention to the incident. No money was reported as having been taken.
Just before 7pm, a report of an attempted theft was made about an incident on Burn Road in Cookstown where a female was reportedly using the ATM when she was confronted by a number of males who tried to take cash from her. When challenged, it was reported the males fled empty handed in what was described an ‘old-style’ blue-coloured Volkswagen Golf.
At around 7:45pm, police received a report of a man using the cash machine on William Street in Cookstown had a sum of money taken from him by a number of males.
Three males have since been arrested – a 16-year-old on suspicion of two counts of attempted theft and four counts of theft; a 17-year-old on suspicion of one count of theft and an 18-year-old male on suspicion of four counts of theft. They all remain in custody at this time.
Detective Inspector Darren Handley said: “Enquiries into these crimes are continuing and I would urge anyone who has information about these incidents which may help identify those involved to please call us. I would also encourage anyone who may have been targeted in the same way but has not reported what happened to them to please make a report to us. I would also appeal to anyone who believes they saw a vehicle matching the description of the car described, possibly in the Moy Road area of Dungannon at around 7pm to 7:30pm last night to call us.
“You can get in contact by calling 101 and quoting reference number 1593 of 20/06/20.
“You can also submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/
“Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/
Detective Inspector Handley added: “It’s really important people are vigilant when using cash machines and that they’re aware of their surroundings. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted, not even for a few seconds, because that’s all an opportunist thief needs.”