Ram-raid gang drive off from Spar in Chagford with cash machine
A gang of thieves ram-raided a shop in a peaceful Devon country town before making off with a cash machine.
It was the second ram-raid in the area in five months.
In the latest raid, shocked residents in Chagford on Dartmoor woke up on Saturday morning to find the demolished shop front with debris scattered across the pavement and onto the road.
Police said the gang of three raiders targeted The Spar Shop in a stolen P-registered red Landrover TDI at about 3.45am.
After the vehicle smashed through the window of the store on The Square, the thieves hauled the cash machine into the back of the Landrover before making their getaway.
Officers and a police dog unit were deployed to try to track down the culprits.
According to police the crime had been "unsuccessful" because there was only a "minimal amount of money" in the machine.
A police spokesman said: "However, the impact on the local community is significant and the damage to the business premises extensive."
The stolen Landrover had earlier been taken from an address in Moretonhampstead – it was later discovered abandoned in nearby farm buildings.
The shop was open for business as usual by Saturday afternoon. Barry Arnold, supervisor, said staff had rallied to get the shop reopened as quickly as possible.
He said: "It looked as if a bomb had gone off inside – it was terrible. But the staff all pitched in to clear the mess up so we could re-open and not let our customers down."
Stuart Clarke, who lives in the town, said: "I think people are pretty shocked because this sort of thing doesn't normally happen. The thieves left the shop-front in a right mess."
A similar crime was committed in Buckfastleigh, about 13 miles away from Chagford, in July this year. On that occasion, a Grade II-listed, centuries-old post office was ruined in a ram-raid – it cost £40,000 to repair.
Again the gang used a stolen Landrover to ram the building before dragging a cash machine out. However, they fled empty-handed after activated alarms alerted nearby neighbours. To date no-one has been charged.
Inspector Gareth Twigg, said: "We're not specifically linking the Chagford and Buckfastleigh jobs but we are exploring any possible links between them. We're keeping an open mind."