Detectives from the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad are investigating after thieves are believed to have attempted to blow open a cash machine on a garage forecourt.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Shell petrol station in Lower Richmond Road, Richmond.

Fire fighters were called at 5.23am to a burning cash machine on the forecourt, and it is believed it caught fire when the thieves attempted to blow it open. The fire was extinguished in less than 10 minutes.

CCTV showed three men with their faces covered and wearing dark clothing arriving at the petrol station at 4.50pm, and leaving 25 minutes later in an estate car which was seen turning onto Lower Mortlake Road.

Detective sergeant Barnfather said: “These men were at the scene for some 25 minutes and, although it was the early hours of the morning, the road was still busy.

“We would ask anyone who saw the men at the scene, or saw them subsequently driving away to contact police.

“Your information could be vital in helping us catch these men and all information will be treated in strict confidence.”

Anyone with information should contact the Flying Squad on 020 8785 8655 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting reference 0710239/14.