Banks are to reduce the amount of cash in ATMs in Northern Ireland as a result of a spate of 19 smash and grab raids on the machines in the past nine months.

Thieves have used diggers stolen from building sites to wrench the machines from the walls before loading them into trucks.

The majority of the premises targeted are independent retailers, whose properties have been seriously damaged.

“This development is disappointing for local communities and for the local shops who rely on the footfall from ATMs… but is entirely understandable given the volume of robberies in the past six months,” said Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, which represents many of the victims.