Ram raiders in balaclavas attempted to steal a cash machine from a petrol station in Essex using a stolen flat-bed lorry.

They struck , at about 1.50am on Thursday July 20, at Whitecourt Service Station in London Road, Black Notley, which is one of 11 sites owned by Top 50 Indie Refuel & Go.

After ramming their way through the back shutters, three men tied a rope around the cash machine, and used a Mercedes flat-bed lorry to try and pull it out, but were unsuccessful.

The men then ran away leaving the lorry still tied to the cash machine.

Managing director Andrew MacDonald said the site does not operate 24 hours a day so thankfully no staff were present, but a lot of damage had been caused.

He said the raiders had placed a wheelie bin in front of the shutters and then used the lorry to force it through the shutters, causing structural damage, and it had hit shelving holding alcohol, which had all been broken (see picture above).

The break-in had set off the alarms, waking neighbours, and he thought that had probably scared the raiders off.

He added: “Nothing was stolen and there was no money left in the cash machine overnight anyway. The main thing was the damage and the staff did a tremendous job clearing up the mess.”

He said the site had been able to reopen, but remedial building work would be needed to repair the damage.

Essex Police confirmed it received reports of criminal damage at the petrol station at 5.20am on Thursday July 20.

A spokesman said: “Suspects have unsuccessfully attempted to remove an ATM machine, using ropes attached to a white Mercedes low-loader vehicle which rammed the rear shutters of the property.

“Extensive damage was caused. The vehicle was reported stolen from Maldon. Two men were seen on CCTV wearing balaclavas.”

Anyone with information should call 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.