Ramraiders in �10k cashpoint robbery

Ram raiders escaped with an estimated �10,000 after using a stolen JCB to rip a cash-point from the wall of a service station shop yesterday morning.

Ram raiders escaped with an estimated �10,000 after using a stolen JCB to rip a cash-point from the wall of a service station shop yesterday morning.

The thieves struck Leftley's Costcutters in Burnham Deepdale at about 3.30am, loading the ATM onto a waiting getaway vehicle and leaving the digger behind.

Detectives investigated the scene and studied CCTV footage while staff began the task of clearing away the debris of shattered glass and splintered wood, watched by shocked customers.

Police believe four people were involved in the raid, but said last night they were keeping an “open mind” as to whether it was linked to a spate of similar crimes carried out in rural Norfolk earlier this winter.

The shop's director, Nigel Leftley, was called out along with the police when the shop's alarm was triggered.

“It is hard enough to trade as an independent business in this economic climate,” he said. “But it is particularly disheartening when you are up against this as well. I suppose cash machines are a target as they hold ready money. According to Cardpoint, which operates the ATM, they estimate about �10,000 was in it. It is surprising how quickly they got it out - they were in and out in five minutes.

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“We are still trading. The customers are shocked. In a small village like Burnham Deepdale you don't expect to see this sort of thing.”

It is the second time in a fortnight that the Leftley's store has been targeted by thieves, after the cigarette counter was emptied during a break-in on February 20.

Mr Leftley said: “I suppose that is part of everyday life running an independent business. We have no reason to believe the two were connected, we have just been unfortunate. We are fully covered with the insurance, but we will have to shell out to put things right. Hopefully, within a few days we will be back to normal, but whether we will have another cashpoint is doubtful.”

In January, a Norfolk police spokesman said a spate of similar crimes in the region could have been the work of an organised gang.

Since November, thieves had struck in areas including Gillingham near Beccles, Bexwell near Downham Market, and Mulbarton - with five raids occurring in just three days in January.

Last night, a police spokesman said: “We always look at the method used and they are very similar but we are keeping an open mind. We don't link them unless we know for certain.”

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