Retailers in Northern ireland say they may be forced to get rid of their cash machines if insurance costs rise following a spate of attempted thefts.

A store in Augher, Co. Tyrone was the latest target of an ATM robbery but the would-be raiders were disturbed before they could fully remove it.

Another store in County Cavan had two ATMs stolen the previous week that were found in an abandoned lorry near the Fermanagh border. A joint team of local police and An Garda Siochana is currently investigating the incident.

McBride Spar group director Peter McBride, who has stores in Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh, said banks have to be more pro-active towards this type of crime.

“The banks should be taking measures that make stealing ATMs a useless exercise,” said Mr McBride who suggests adding dye to the bank notes making them unusable or fitting tracking devices.

“In a lot of cases the targeted ATMs will be the only one in a village and their loss affects rural communities,” added McBride. “Insurance companies may start loading premises who have cash machines making it eventually not financially viable to provide this service to the local community.”

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Northern Ireland Independent Retailers Trade Association echoed these concerns. “The criminals who steal these ATM machines are not just stealing from small businesses, they are stealing from the whole community who, in rural areas, rely on these machine to withdraw benefits, salaries and pensions,” said Roberts. “Our concern is that continued robberies of this nature could force banks to call a halt to installing these machines or even removing them unless action is taken”