Armed gardai foiled suspected members of an ATM theft gang as they attempted to steal an excavator in a Border town.
Detectives are hunting up to five men involved in the botched raid after they targeted the digger in Ballybay, Monaghan, at around 4am yesterday.
The machinery was parked in the rear of a pub in Cornamucklaglass where work was being carried out when the gang struck. Local gardai were alerted and members of the Regional Support Unit (RSU), who were on patrol in the area, also rushed to the scene.
After being disturbed, the gang made off in a silver Ford Mondeo which was later found abandoned in an industrial estate in Carrickmacross.
The vehicle has been seized for a technical examination and gardai were attempting to establish if the car was stolen or legitimately purchased.
They are also hoping to recover forensic evidence from the Ford Mondeo which may help identifying those involved.
Detectives believe the gang were stealing the digger to use it to target a nearby ATM before gardai were alerted.
"The main line of inquiry is that this excavator was to be used to rip the ATM from the wall," a source said.
"The same cash machine was targeted over a year ago and these gangs appear to be following a pattern now of returning to towns they have previously hit," the source added.
On December 16, 2018, a gang made off with up to €100,000 after targeting the ATM on Ballybay Main Street.
A digger was towed to the scene by a tractor and trailer before removing the cash machine.
A large SUV with a trailer was then used to transport it from the scene.
Gardai have not yet made any arrests in relation to yesterday's incident and are investigating if the gang fled across the Border after ditching the vehicle in Carrickmacross.
A Garda spokesman said that investigations are ongoing and are appealing for any witnesses who were in theCornamucklaglass and Carrickmacross areas to contact them.