A SHOPKEEPER said his family’s lives were put at risk when masked raiders set fire to a cash machine in a failed bid to steal it.
The offenders targeted the ATM on the outside wall of the Premier store in Lymington Road, Brockenhurst, around 1.25am today (Tuesday).
The raid happened shortly before a similar incident near Southampton which police are also investigating.
Cemal Gunduz, who runs the store, was asleep upstairs where he lives with his wife and two children, when he was awoken by a loud bang and the burglar alarm going off.
“I heard this boom like a bomb and the alarm went off,” he told the A&T. “I came downstairs and saw the fire, and I asked a neighbour to call the police.”
Firefighters were also dispatched, but the flames were out by the time the crews from the village and Lyndhurst arrived.
Nothing had been stolen and the damage was confined to the ATM, but Mr Gunduz feared the incident could have had tragic consequences for himself and his family.
“This was very serious because if it didn’t wake us up, the fire could have spread,” he said.
He said the offenders had been captured on CCTV, but they had their faces covered.
Detectives are looking into whether the attempted theft is linked to another which took place around 2.50am this morning outside the post office in Lower New Road, West End.
In that incident, a number of men were reportedly seen to set fire to the ATM before leaving empty-handed. Firefighters responded and made it safe.
A Hampshire police spokesperson said: “Investigations are under way and detectives are looking to see if the two incidents are linked.”
Anyone with information should contact the force on 101, quoting crime reference number 44190313025 for the Brockenhurst offence or 44190313026 for the one in West End. Crimestoppers can also be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.