RAM RAIDERS used a 4×4 vehicle to smash through the back doors of the Co-op in Highcliffe on Tuesday night in an attempt to steal from the in-store cash machine.
Substantial damage was caused by the thieves when they ploughed a Land Rover Discovery into the supermarket several times before the vehicle rolled onto its roof.
The offenders then fled the scene on foot towards Wortley Road, apparently empty-handed.
Glass doors to the rear of the Co-op – which backs onto a car park – were demolished and part of the ceiling and a huge shutter roller were brought down.
The ATM, which is near tills at the front of the shop, appeared to have been crow-barred open although it is believed the raiders did not get away with any of the cash inside. Their actions were caught on CCTV, and police were alerted just after 11.30pm that night.
Store managers were informed about what had happened early on Wednesday, and staff arriving for work later were said to be “completely shocked” by the scene of devastation that greeted them.
A Spokesperson for Co-op, said: “An incident occurred at our Highcliffe store in the early hours of this morning, where there was an unsuccessful attack on the community’s ATM.
“Safety and security is a number one priority at the Co-op, and we have invested millions of pounds in innovative technology – from the latest remote monitored CCTV to SmartWater in our ATM’s and kiosks.
“We appeal for anyone who may have seen or heard anything to come forward to Police, who are investigating. The store has re-opened to serve the community.”
It is the second time within two years that the high street store has been targeted by ram raiders. In February 2018 the rear doors were broken open by a van that was reversed into them and several parcels were taken.
This time the criminals went straight for the ATM, leaving a trail of damage behind them. Confectionary near to the rear doors was thrown around, and metal and plastic ripped from the cash machine was spread on the floor.
A police forensics officer was taking photographs of the damage on Wednesday and carrying out tests on the ATM for fingerprints and other evidence.
Employees from GR Westbuild Ltd, based in Bournemouth, were boarding up the rear doors and making the area near them safe. A glass trolley shelter near the doors had also been damaged in the raid.
Shoppers arriving at the store were shocked to find out what had happened.
One elderly woman said: “I really can’t believe this is happening in Highcliffe. It is really quite frightening. It’s just good none of the staff were injured.”
DI Gavin House, of Bournemouth CID, said: “An investigation is underway to identify the offenders involved.
“I am appealing to anyone who may have seen a Land Rover Discovery, or any other vehicles acting suspiciously, in the nearby area at the relevant time to get in touch.
“I would also like to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information to assist my investigation.”
Anyone with information should contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 55190171017, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.