A cash machine was ripped out of a forecourt in the Cotswolds minutes after eight police cars at a nearby police station had their tyres slashed.

At about 3.30am on Saturday November 9 Gloucestershire Constabulary was alerted that thieves had smashed the cash machine at the Euro Garages Service Station, in Stow Road, Moreton in Marsh.

The criminals had used a stolen cherry picker, which has been recovered, and made off with part of the machine and four cash cassettes.

When officers from Stow-on-the-Wold tried to respond they found that one tyre on each of eight police cars parked at the rear of the station had been slashed, disabling them all.

CCTV footage revealed three people, one in grey and two in dark clothing, running from the scene about 10 minutes before the theft was reported.

Officers from the Force Response Unit and Crime Operations Team were on patrol in the area and were able to respond immediately, but the offenders had left the scene.

No-one was injured during the incident though there is some structural damage to the property.

Detective superintendent Steve Bean said: “These two incidents do appear to be linked and would indicate that this crime was committed by a professional group.

“We have a team working on a number of cross-border offences at the moment who were on patrol in the area, which meant they could respond very quickly and only just missed the offenders.

“Incidents like this can have a big impact on the local community and I would like to assure members of the public that we are committed to finding those responsible.

“People should be aware, however, that there are criminals looking to steal high powered cars for use as getaway vehicles and they should not be complacent about their own security measures.

“Fortunately the damage to the eight cars did not affect our ability to respond to other incidents, and they are all now repaired.”

Anyone who saw any suspicious activity in Stow Road, Moreton, or the A429, Stow, in the early hours of the morning is asked to call Gloucestershire Constabulary on 101 quoting incidents 36 and 39 of 9 November.