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Ram raid at petrol station

PUBLISHED: 10:34 05 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:57 05 July 2010

Attempted ram raiders fled empty-handed from a south Norfolk petrol station after trying to make off with a cash machine using a stolen JCB digger.

Police were called at 2.

Attempted ram raiders fled empty-handed from a south Norfolk petrol station after trying to make off with a cash machine using a stolen JCB digger.

Police were called at 2.50am yesterday to the BP station on the A146 in Gillingham following the attempted raid, in which a JCB digger with a bucket and lifting device was used to ram the cash machine next to the shop.

Now police are exploring the possibility that the offence is linked to a similar crime at a petrol station near Downham Market last month.

Police said that the digger used in yesterday'sattempted theft had been stolen from a small industrial premises at Ditchingham near Bungay between 6pm on Wednesday and the early hours of yesterday.

Some damage was caused to the shop area and the free-standing cash machine had been knocked at an angle and dented, although it remained intact and the would-be thieves left without cash. Officers say they are keen to speak to a young male driver of a silver 4x4 vehicle that was at the scene and is thought to be involved.

The petrol station, which is next to McDonald's just off the roundabout, was closed temporarily yesterday, but re-opened for business in time for the morning rush hour. No-one was hurt in the incident.

A similar attempted ram raid occurred at a Jet petrol station in Bexhall on November 17. There, three men were disturbed by a member of the public as they tried to remove an ATM machine from the ground using a JCB in the early hours, and drove off without taking anything. At the time police appealed for witnesses of a silver 4x4 vehicle, and the JCB used, which had been stolen from a nearby industrial unit.

Yesterday, police cordoned off the grass area next to the Gillingham service station shop, where the digger had been abandoned. Forensic experts carried out tests on scene before attempts could be made to pull out the vehicle. Due to heavy rain its wheels had left deep tracks in the muddy ground and the vehicle had begun to sink.

Detective Sergeant Gary Bloomfield yesterday urged anyone who witnessed the incident, who has knowledge of the crime or who saw anything suspicious to come forward, saying: “In particular I'm keen to hear from anyone who saw a JCB being driven in the area after 6pm last night. Indeed, I would ask people to report to police any JCB type vehicle being driven on the roads overnight after 7pm in the evening to let us know.

“At this time of year, after darkness has fallen, it would be unusual for users of these types of vehicles to be on the road and their presence on roads may indicate some type of suspicious behaviour.”

Staff at the petrol station declined to comment.

Anyone with information should contact Bethel Street CID on 0845 4564567 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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