UPDATE: Thieves use stolen digger to take ATM from HSBC bank in Reepham

More details have emerged about a meticulously-planned smash-and-grab raid that left a gaping hole in the wall of a Reepham bank.

Thieves used a stolen JCB digger to rip out the cash machine, which contained a 'substantial of money', from HSBC's town square branch, before driving it off in a getaway vehicle early this morning.

The gang also let down the tyres of two police cars parked outside the un-manned police station on the opposite side of the square, and left the digger's engine and lights on when they fled.

Neighbours living above shops in the area called the police at about 12.45am after hearing a 'dull rumbling sound' outside and seeing a group of five to six men taking the ATM.

Brian Robertson of Robertson's family butcher next door said the noise lasted up to eight minutes. He said: 'I was in the shower after just finishing work. I heard a lot of noise and thought some kids had got some wheelie bins and were messing about outside.

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'It was not until my wife said it I realised they had taken the cash machine.'

Debbie Garratt, general manager of the Old Brewery House hotel saw lights through her window, and James Bryan, who also lives nearby, heard noises while he was playing computer games, but neither realised what had happened until they saw the pile of rubble outside the bank the following morning.

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The thieves had earlier stolen the JCB Teleporter from a locked warehouse at Harold Jones Farms, three miles away in Little Witchingham.

The farm's lorry driver David Nicols said they smashed the building's electronic key, joined up the wires to open the roller door and moved 4x4 vehicles to access the digger before disabling its reverse safety beeper to avoid waking people in the farmhouse.

Long-time Reepham resident Winifred Rogers, who saw the aftermath when she bought a newspaper, said: 'It's normally a very civilised place to live, so it's a wee bit of a surprise.'

The suspects, who were wearing balaclavas, made off in two vehicles believed to be a black Ford Focus RS and a dark coloured Toyota Hilux.

Police appealed for anyone with information, or who saw any suspicious activity at around the time, to contact DS Chris Burgess Great Yarmouth at CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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