Northampton

Reverend Richard Coles: Finedon ram-raiders 'rather assertive'

Raided store in Finedon
Image caption The store was targeted in the early hours of Wednesday morning

Ram-raiders who struck at a convenience store had "rather an assertive go at withdrawing cash" from the small shop, the Reverend Richard Coles said.

Thieves used a Land Rover to smash their way into the Premier store in Finedon, Northamptonshire - where Mr Coles is vicar - at about 02:45 BST.

The broadcaster said it was the second such raid in Finedon.

A witness said the cash machine fell out of the getaway vehicle about three times before four men sped away.

Raiders broke into the Irthlingborough Road shop through the front by using a tow rope from the Land Rover Defender to pull the security shutters away.

"The vehicle is then used to ram the store and gain access", before four offenders removed the machine, loaded it into a dark-coloured Audi estate or Audi TT, and fled the scene, Northamptonshire Police said.

Image caption Barrels had been placed in front of the shutters to deter thieves after a previous raid at the store
Image caption The raiders may have taken the "free to use cash machine" sign too literally

John Ellson, who lives opposite, said he heard a "loud crash and shouting" as the thieves struck.

"There were about four men all wearing balaclavas and they dragged the ATM out of the shop with a Land Rover," he said.

"I ran up to confront them and I was threatened by one of them - he came towards me in a menacing manner - so I just backed right off."

Image copyright John Ellson
Image caption The stolen 4x4 used to smash through the shop was abandoned at the scene

Mr Ellson said the ATM fell out of the back of the Audi about three times before the offenders eventually sped away in it.

The people who run the store and live above it had been forced to leave while the building's structure was being assessed, he added.

The Land Rover, which was left at the shop, had been stolen in Bedfordshire and is currently being examined.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The former Strictly Come Dancing star and broadcaster is based at St Mary's Church in Finedon, near Wellingborough

Tweeting about the incident in his parish, Mr Coles, a former member of 80s band The Communards, wrote: "Someone had rather an assertive go at withdrawing cash from the ATM at our shop last night.

"There are people who live above it. No-one hurt, fortunately, but a neighbour threatened when he took this picture."

Police said 14 officers had responded to the incident, plus others from neighbouring forces, and that the investigation was under way.

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