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Historic building in Long Melford damaged in ATM theft

PUBLISHED: 06:53 14 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:33 14 October 2018

The scene of the ram raid at McColl's in Long Melford   Picture: PAUL GEATER

The scene of the ram raid at McColl's in Long Melford Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

ATM raiders have caused serious damage to an historic building in Long Melford in an early-morning raid at a newsagents.

They used a Claas telehandler to steal the cash machine at Martin McColl newsagents in the heart of the historic village.

The alarm was raised shortly before 3am on Sunday morning – and there are fears for the structure of the building which is Grade II listed after the raid.

Police believe that five men described as wearing dark coloured clothing with their faces covered removed the ATM using the telehandler.

The ATM was placed onto a Black Nissan Navara before making off from the scene heading towards Sudbury in the Nissan closely followed by what is believed to be a Blue Audi saloon.

The scene of the ram raid at McColl's in Long Melford   Picture: PAUL GEATERThe scene of the ram raid at McColl's in Long Melford Picture: PAUL GEATER

A local resident who saw the incident said: “It was quite frightening while it was going on – but the whole thing only lasted about two and a half minutes. They appeared to know what they were doing.”

The resident said it was very noisy and there were real fears that the building would collapse as the huge crack opened up.

The timber-framed building dates from the 17th century although it was expanded in the 19th century, It has been a listed building since 1978.

It is the second time in less than a year that Long Melford has been targeted by ATM raiders – in November last year the Co-op was hit.

And there have been other recent cases in the immediate area – two in Lavenham, two in Sudbury, in Great Cornard, in Clare and in Halstead.

The number of incidents across the country has prompted businesses and insurers to warn that there could be a dramatic fall in the number of ATMs in smaller communities across the country because of the danger that they could be targeted by raiders and the subsequent increase in the cost of insuring premises that have them.

Parish council chair Liz Malvisi was concerned about the impact the raid could have on the community: “We have a lot of quite elderly people living here and if they can’t get money from an ATM, what will they do?

“I could perfectly understand if McColls turn around and say ‘We’re not having a cash machine in our building again’ and that would be another service lost to the village – a service that is badly needed.’”

The scene of the ram raid at McColl's in Long Melford   Picture: PAUL GEATERThe scene of the ram raid at McColl's in Long Melford Picture: PAUL GEATER

Police and structural engineers were at the scene of the raid for much of Sunday – and the building is likely to be out of action for many months.

Police are investigating this matter and are keen to hear from any witnesses who may have been in the area. Anyone with information is asked to contact West Suffolk CID on 101 quoting investigation reference number 37/59252/18

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