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Hole-in-the-wall gangs stole nearly £50m last year

Hole-in-the-wall gangs went on £50m spree last year as raids using stolen diggers and explosives to rip out cash machines soar

  • Brazen criminals targetting cash machines plundered almost £50m last year 
  • Hole-in-the-wall gangs have used JCB diggers and explosives to loot cash  
  • Around £46.8m was stolen from 722 attacks, with £100m extra damage inflicted 
  • Risen so rapidly now one in every five attacks in Europe takes place in the UK

Criminals targetting cash machines last year increasingly used explosives and diggers to steal almost £50 million, a damning report can reveal.

Gangs struck almost twice a day and hit rural areas to loot eye-watering sums of cash with brazen tactics including using stolen diggers to tear ATMS from the wall. 

In other instances the thieves pumped ATMs full of explosive gas and used industrial tools to rip them apart, making off with nearly £46.8 million from 722 attacks in 2017.

Criminals targetting cash machines last year increasingly used explosives and diggers to steal almost £50 million, a damning report can reveal. Gangs struck almost twice a day and hit rural areas to loot eye-watering sums of cash (picture shows attempted robbery in Fairley in 2018)

Police say the hole-in-the-wall gangs have injected sophisticated and highly organised methods into their smash and grab tactics, plundering millions in the process. 

While the gangs inflict additional costs of some £100 million in damages and lost trade, according to the report compiled by ATM operator Cardtronics.  


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As recently as July this year, a branch of Barclays in Milton Keynes was targetted by raiders who smashed a cashpoint from the wall with a JCB digger.

Pictures showed the aftermath of the attack looking more like a bombing than a bank robbery, with rubble strewn across the ground and half a wall missing from the building.  

Police say the hole-in-the-wall gangs have injected sophisticated and highly organised methods into their smash and grab tactics, plundering millions in the process

It was not revealed how much money was stolen, but the average cash machine holds around £5,000 to £10,000. However, they can contain as much as £120,000. 

In another instance, in Surrey last year, thieves used a stolen digger to rip a cashpoint from a wall in Haslemere Train Station in Surrey, leaving the building severely damaged. 

In January 2015 robbers used a JCB digger to force an ATM from the wall of a Co-op story in Haxby, York before making an escape in a pick-up truck, leaving the JCB for police to find.  

In other instances, such as this attack pictured in Liverpool on December 1,  the thieves pumped ATMs full of explosive gas and used industrial tools to rip them apart – making off with nearly £46.8 million from 722 attacks in 2017

Some of the gangs have been linked to firearms offences and high level drug dealing, report The Times, who accessed the Cardtronics report first. 

The hole-in-the-wall smash and grab style attack has risen so rapidly that now one in every five attacks in Europe takes place in the UK. 

The report states that since 2013 the number of thefts classified as dangerous has doubled, with ram raids, gas attacks and stolen diggers used to tear out the ATMs.     

Nearly half of the 722 attacks last year were classified as ‘dangerous’ in the report, meaning that there was risk to life. 

Of the attacks, around 100 were gas explosions, and there are fears that number will double by 2020 unless action is taken to counter the problem. 

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Mossop, of the north-west regional organised crime group, told The Times: ‘From a policing perspective, ATM crime is highly organised and sophisticated. 

Pictures showed the aftermath of the attack looking more like a bombing than a bank robbery, with rubble strewn across the ground and half a wall missing from the building 

‘Offences require a degree of criminal operational planning and the methods of attack from gas explosion to “drag out” have the potential to put the public and offenders at risk.’

In another brazen attack, this October, dramatic footage was released showing the masked raiders using a stolen farm digger to hit a newsagent and make off with the ATM.  

The gang used a JCB to rip the cash machine from the wall, leaving a gaping hole in the front of the listed building in Long Melford, Suffolk.

A JCB was used to to force entry into a bank early this morning and rip an ATM machine out of a wall. Officers were called at around 3.05am in late August 2018

The early-morning robbery, which lasted only a few minutes, ended when the gang lifted the automated teller on to a Nissan pick-up truck and sped off.

In September, nine members of a traveller family in Doncaster were jailed following an investigation into the raids in the area.

Police raided two traveller sites in Bentley and Armthorpe finding a sub-machine gun, two semi-automatic guns, two pistols and around £115,000 in cash, along with several kilos of uncut heroin.

The thieves used a JCB to inflict thousands of pounds of damage to a Co-op supermarket in a listed Tudor building in Dedham, Essex.  

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