Highland residents fear crime increase due to bank closures
Residents of Fort Augustus worry that their town is facing a crime wave because bank closures mean businesses must keep cash on their premises.
The small highland tourist town has experienced several break-ins since July.
The Monster Fish and Chips, The Boat House Restaurant, Cruise Loch Ness ticket office and a petrol station on the A82 are some of the businesses which have experienced break-ins.
The town has a population of 650, with no full-time bank.
The Bank of Scotland only opens twice a week and RBS’s mobile banking van visits for only half an hour.
Residents fear that criminals are targeting the town as they know there is cash around due to the lack of cash depositing facilities.
Alongside the robberies, a CCTV hard drive was pulled out of the Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus which the police say is linked to the raids on the businesses.
Local councillor, Margaret Davidson, said: “The criminals are people who have been watching the town. Fort Augustus is a tourist town with a lot of money changing hands and it’s now quite difficult to deal with all that cash on the premises. The closure of banks also makes the Post Office more of a target and the Post Office is restricted in how it can deal with summer cash.
“The banks have just walked away from us. It’s a disgrace. There was no discussion among them as to how to sustain a service for this village. All the villages I represent have lost their banks, including Drumnadrochit and Beauly, which has lost both.”
Detective Inspector Eddie Ross said the police are continuing to follow a number of lines of inquiry in connection with the Fort Augustus break-ins.
He said: “These inquiries relate to seven business premises in the village. There are similarities between many of these incidents, not only in Fort Augustus itself but also other crimes in rural locations across the Highlands, Perthshire, and Tayside. However, we continue to keep an open mind about links between them as our inquiries progress.”
DI Ross said the force’s preventions and interventions unit had visited local businesses to advise on how to keep their properties as secure as possible.