Guardian News & Media/Dorset
Thieves in Dorset have brought new meaning to the phrase “hole in the wall” after stealing a tractor to rip a cash machine out of a shop wall.
Police received several calls just after 4am yesterday to report the theft in progress from a shop in Fleet Street, Beaminster.
The perpetrators used a stolen green tractor as they tried to extract the ATM from the wall, which previously belonged to an HSBC branch and is now part of a bespoke kitchen and furniture store.
The thieves caused significant structural damage to the building before making off on foot and then driving away in a dark-coloured Audi car.
One resident of a flat above the shop escaped unhurt.
It is yet known whether any money was actually stolen.
The tractor was abandoned at the scene alongside a green Land Rover Defender, which had also been stolen from Whitcombe Road in Beaminster.
The street was closed until a structural engineer could advise on making the premises safe.
Detective Superintendent Simon Austin, of Weymouth Criminal Investigation Department has called on any witnesses to contact Dorset police.
“The offenders have caused significant structural damage to the property and the road has been closed to ensure the safety of members of the public,” he said.
The incident follows a warning issued in August last year by Devon police to farmers after thieves took a Merlo telehandler – similar to the one used in Beaminster – from a farm in South Hams to steal a cash machine from a petrol station in Totnes.
The perpetrators managed to get away with the machine and partly demolished the petrol station in the process, causing thousands of pounds of damage.
A few days later thieves attempted to steal a second Merlo from a farm near Kingsbridge.
However, they were disturbed and fled empty-handed.
The police said there had also been a spate of incidents in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire last year.
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