Police are reassuring residents of a small North Island town of their commitment after a brazen smash-and-grab robbery of the community's only ATMs left it cashless.
The burglary in Murupara, Bay of Plenty, occurred in the early hours of June 3, when the someone stole a front-end loader and used it to damage a building - stealing a Westpac ATM machine and damaging a New Zealand Credit Union ATM in the process.
Despite the effort and resulting chaos, the feckless bandits failed to retrieve any of the cash, authorities said.
The theft was the second of its kind in just two months.
Thieves dumped the Westpac ATM machine in the nearby Kaingaroa Forest, but that hasn’t encouraged locals, who want to see a greater police presence in the town.
A community hui was held today after the heist, which has left many in the town on edge with locals willing to step up to protect their community.
“I honestly think that we need to be putting in place some measures that are going to assist our communities to become more accountable for their community, working with police, of course," said Acting Area Commander Phillip Taikato.
It’s unknown if Westpac will return the ATM machine, but NZ Credit Union says it will as soon as the damaged front of the building is repaired.
In the meantime, it is providing weekly transport for customers into their Rotorua branch.
In a statement today, Westpac said: "We're conscious of how important cash services are to the community of Murupara and we're working really hard to find a solution for them."
Police say residents may soon feel more secure, as their investigation into the ATM theft is close to an arrest.