Robbery misfires as ATM blast flops

2010-03-08 00:00

A GROUP of thieves walked away with less money than they expected after their explosives failed to go off in one of two ATMs targeted at a Newcastle mall in the early hours of Saturday morning.

According to Superintendent Vincent Mdunge, a large group of thugs stormed into the Hatten Heights mall at about 3.30 am, apparently with the intention of blowing both the Absa and First National Bank ATMs.

However, the explosives meant to blow up the FNB ATM did not go off.

The robbers made their escape in a BMW and a Toyota bakkie after spraying two vehicles belonging to a security company and a neighbourhood watch team with bullets. It is believed that the robbers were using AK47s. The security company and neighbourhood watch were responding to the robbery.

Two other vehicles belonging to members of the public who were passing by were also caught in the line of fire, though police say no-one was injured.

“The thieves are still at large. They drove away with an undisclosed amount of money.

“Four ca­ses have been opened: those of robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted murder, malicious damage to property and the contravention of the Explosives Act.”

Mdunge said the organised crime unit has been tasked with the investigation after police confiscated the explosives that did not blow up. He added that this would hopefully soon help police close in on the criminals.

He said this was the third ATM bombing in the pro­vince in the space of three months. However, he did not think it such bombings are becoming out of control.

“I think in the past there were at least three to four syndicates operating in the province, but they were brought to their knees. Many have been convicted or are still awaiting trial.

“I think that substantially brought ATM bombings to a standstill. And if this is a new syndicate, we are on to them and they will be dealt with accordingly,” said Mdunge.

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