SOME shops and post offices have been told they are ‘too high risk’ to have ATMs installed as a prolific gang of cash machine thieves remain on the loose.

A number of business across the county which have been targeted in ram-raid style ATM thefts over the last 15 months have been unable to re-install the machines with the operators now seemingly fearful the thieves could strike again.

The news means some communities will be left permanently without easy access to free cash withdrawals amid growing concerns over the impact of an increasingly cashless society.

ALSO READ: Dramatic pictures and video from latest ram-raid

As many as 15 supermarkets, shops and post offices have been targeted by the cash machine bandits since December 2017, with at least five of these businesses now unable or unwilling the re-install the ATMs.

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The Spar in Bodicote was targeted in March 2018 as thieves used a stolen Land Rover in a smash and grab ram raid.

Despite causing extensive damage to the store the thieves ultimately left empty handed, but despite making a number of improvements to security, including replacing the glass front with a brick wall, owner Sally Read, said ATM operator CashZone had refused to install another machine.

She said: “We would have had one but the company that installed it deemed us to be too much of a high risk.

“They didn’t bother to ask us what extra security we had put in and then we couldn’t find another one that offered free cash withdrawals, so we just decided not to have one.”

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Moazzam Iqbal, whose family run the Post Office in Littlemore, which was targeted in February this year, - READ THE STORY HERE - said it was unlikely the cash machine there would be re-installed by the Bank of Ireland saying: “We would like to have it re-installed but we know that unless providers can guarantee the security they probably won’t want to put it back in.”

Morrisons in Carterton and Waitrose in Botley (both targeted in March 2018) have also been permanently left without an ATM and now staff at the Co-op in Kingston Bagpuize, which had its front wall ripped out by a digger in the latest ATM raid earlier this month, also confirmed its cash machine would not be re-installed.

ALSO READ: The moment police raided a house in search of ATM gang

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While bosses at the Midcounties Co-operative may now be re-thinking plans for a cash machine at the soon-to-open store in neighbouring Southmoor with a spokesman saying it was ‘too early to say’ if an ATM would be installed – this despite a machine being included in the original plans.

Last November saw 250 officers swoop on 10 locations across Oxfordshire making a number of arrests in connection with some of the thefts.

Thames Valley Police was unable to provide an update this week, however, as of January there had been no-one charged in connection with the raids.

ALSO READ: Mapped - just some of the locations attacked by ATM gang

The ATM attacks have added to general fears over the dwindling number of cash machines in the high streets of towns and villages across the UK, with Which? calculating cash machines were closing at a rate of 300 per month.

In 2017 debit card transactions overtook cash payments for the very first time, while an independent review published by Access to Cash earlier this month warned that millions of people who rely on hard currency may be left behind with Britain expected to be completely cashless by 2026 if current trends continue.

Debby Hallett, Vale of White Horse district councillor for Botley where some residents now face more than a half a mile walk to the nearest cash machine said she recognised the reducing ATMs as a growing concern.

She said: “I don’t have an answer, but I do recognise it as a problem, because like so often in this situation it’s the ones who are more vulnerable that often get left behind.”

A spokesman for LINK, which funded the Access to Cash report, said: “We are aware this is an issue and hope that with enhanced security some more of these ATMs can be replaced over time.

“However it is ultimately a decision for the ATM operator and the site owner.”