Greater Manchester Police are investigating after thieves blew apart a cash machine on a service station forecourt, in one of two attacks on ATMs on the same night.

At 3.25am on Friday 25 September, police were called following reports of a loud bang outside the Texaco-branded Partington Service Station on Smithy Lane, Trafford. Officers attended and discovered an ATM in pieces.

A short time later at 3.40am, smoke was seen coming from a Barclays Bank branch on Park Road, Timperley. Officers attended and again found a cash machine had been damaged.

It is believed the damage was caused by a pressurised explosion and money was taken from both machines.

Sohel Patel, 29, site owner of Partington Service Station, said the machine can hold £120,000. Just £40,000 was left inside after the raid.

The attack was captured on CCTV. The footage, now being studied by detectives, shows a blinding flash of light before the men quickly fill bags with cash.

And an opportunist passer-by is caught by the camera helping himself to notes from the floor after the gang escaped. Sohel said firefighters were quickly at the scene.

He said: “Someone could easily have been killed. The machine was blown to bits. It was like a bomb blast. It was a green-coloured cylinder like people use for barbecues. Somehow they ignited it.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward. Detective sergeant Lee Attenborough said: “From the information we have received, we believe four men were seen outside both premises with a red hatchback car seen driving away from the scene in Timperley.

“Due to the location and times of both incidents, we suspect both incidents are linked and we are working to establish who is responsible.

“I would ask anyone who may have witnessed the machines being damaged, saw the men or the car drive away to call us as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information can phone police on 0161 856 7530 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.