TRASHED: A large hole has been made in the side of the Co-op in Colchester Road, Halstead, Essex
THIS is the devastation caused to a market town Co-op store after ram raiders smashed a huge hole through the side to get to a cash machine in the early hours of this morning.
Essex Police wants to trace the driver of a Mitsubishi Shogun which was seen in the area at the time.
The colour of this vehicle is not known.
The force was called by a member of the public at 2.45am with reports of a burglary at the store in Colchester Road, Halstead, Essex.
An Essex Police spokesman said: "Since the report was made, the stolen ATM has been recovered, in addition to three vehicles believed to have been involved in the incident.
"Witnesses reported seeing between five to eight people near the ATM. These were believed to be men and they were wearing dark clothing.
OPENING: Police have recovered the cash machine and three vehicles
"No arrests have been made."
Because of the damage to the building, it is not yet safe for forensic investigators.
Detective Inspector Rob Kirby from Braintree CID, said: “Once the building has been made safe by Essex County Fire & Rescue Service, we will be able to carry out a forensic examination of the scene."
Co-op staff were today seen standing outside to prevent anyone going in.
Mr Kirby added: “We are working to establish whether any money was stolen from the recovered ATM.
“We’re also keeping an open mind as to whether this is linked to other incidents which appear to have similarities.
“Thank you to members of the public who have assisted us so far.
“If you have any information which could help us further, please contact my team of detectives.”
CLOSED: Police tape around the store, but no officers were on scene at 2.30pm today
Please call Braintree CID on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
More cash machines are being kept inside shops after ram raiders kept smashing the typical home in the wall ones out.
However, the crooks appear to have just changed their tactics, to now make holes big enough in the building to get in and remove any inside.
Just over a week ago crooks drove a JCB into the front of a Barclays Bank branch that was almost completely destroyed at 3am.
They made off with an internal cash machine from the branch in High Street, Olney, Buckinghamshire.
The fire service also had to be called in to assist police, who closed off the road while the structure of the building was checked.