Katrina Hinschen and Paddy Naughtin, 10 September 2015

A SERVICE station owner looked on helplessly as thieves used a front end loader to ram through a wall and steal an ATM from the business in the early hours of this morning.

​Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Smith said the owner, who lives a short distance from the Whittlesea township service station, was alerted by an alarm just before 3am this morning, only to arrive and look on as the crime took place.

“He approached the building but he had some concerns for his safety so didn’t approach the offenders while they were there,” Sen-Sgt Smith said.

“No cash was found but parts of the casing from the front of the ATM were found.

“Damage to the service station looks fairly extensive. I wouldn’t be surprised if building inspectors shut down access to the building.”

An employee of the service station was alerted to the break in by an alarm and drove to the service station, but worried about his own safety he didn’t approach the men.

“I saw them putting the ATM into the car,” he said.

“I was very scared I couldn’t speak.”

The employee said he had no idea when the service station would re-open.

“We can’t open because of the main structure problem,” he said.

Sen-Sgt Smith said police were investigating how much money was inside the ATM and would review CCTV footage.

“The problem with a lot of these crimes is the initial crime is bad but the ongoing peripheral effect is that you have a small business owner trying to run a business and make a living and the ongoing damage to the building will no doubt impact on their ability to trade for the coming weeks, if not months.”

Investigators believe two offenders arrived at the United petrol station on Plenty Rd in a white ute in the early hours of this morning.

They then entered a nearby sawmill where they stole the front end loader and drove it into the wall of the service station, causing extensive damage to the building.

Police believe the pair then dragged the ATM out of the store and put it on the back of the ute before fleeing the scene.

The ute was located by police in Wild Duck Way, Whittlesea township, while remnants of the ATM were found in Tambo Crescent about 1km away.

“We’re not sure if the ATM was bolted to the floor but the amount of force from a 25 tonne loader, not a lot can prevent that (the ATM) from moving.

“We suspect this crime was planned as they’ve known to have gone to the timber yard (to get the front end loade). A degree of planning has gone into it.”

Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area at the time is urged to contact Crime Stopperson 1800 333 000 FREE.

Extracted in full from The Herald Sun.