Thieves used a digger to steal an ATM from a Tesco supermarket in Antrim in the middle of the night.
Police Service Northern Ireland said it received a report of the theft just after 3am.
The machine was recovered just a few miles away about half an hour later.
Paul Michael, who was mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey until May this year, told the PA news agency that the incident was “an attack on the whole community”.
He continued: “The location of (the) ATMs did not just service Tesco shoppers, but the residents of the whole town.
“A crime against the community.”
Mr Michael said the Tesco supermarket was open for business.
In a statement, Detective Inspector Richard Thornton appealed to owners of heavy plant machinery to secure the vehicles properly to prevent such incidents in the future, and asked the public to be aware of diggers on the roads in the evening or middle of the night.
In November, a man was charged over an attempted ATM theft that caused the collapse of a petrol station roof in Ballynahinch, Co Down.