POLICE are investigating if an explosive raid on a cash machine is connected to similar unsolved robberies across Scotland.
Brazen thieves are thought to have blown the ATM free from its mounting outside a Tesco Supermarket in Aberdeenshire over the weekend.
They not only endangered themselves but they endangered innocent members of the public.Detective Inspector Stewart Mackie
Detectives said the cash machine outside the Tesco Express in the village of Newtonhill - six miles south of Aberdeen - was “attacked” in the early hours of Saturday morning.
It comes just months after robbers made off with more than £10,000 from two other cash machines at another supermarket in the area.
Two ATMs were found broken outside the entrance to a Morrisons branch in Banchory in January - with the gang responsible believed to still be at large.
Detective Inspector Stewart Mackie, who is leading the Newtonhill investigation, said it was too early to tell if the two crimes were linked but said officers were keeping an open mind.
He said police are currently trying to track down the occupants of a dark grey estate car seen in the area around the time of the latest incident and appealed for anyone who may have seen the vehicle in the days leading up to the incident to get in contact.
Inspector Mackie added: “We are also interested to hear from anyone who was on the night bus from Aberdeen that dropped off people coming from town around the time.
“This was a brazen crime. They not only endangered themselves but they endangered innocent members of the public.”
Last year a number of alleged attempted raids were carried out on ATMs across Aberdeenshire, including in New Deer, Oldmeldrum, Inverurie Ellon, Stonehaven and Aberdeen.
Several people have been charged in connection and are due to appear in court.
And detectives in Merseyside have also been liaising with Police Scotland after seven men were jailed in England for the theft of £800,000 from 28 cash machines.
Several residents who live near where the latest raid place took place reported hearing a “loud bang” around 2:30am on Saturday.
Many locals thought there had been an accident on the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee road, which passes through the area just yards away from the supermarket entrance.
One woman, who did not wish to be named, said her family and neighbours were woken in the middle of the night by a “deafening” sound.
She said: “It was a boom. People thought a truck had crashed on the A90.
“I’ve never heard a noise like it in my life. I’ll never forget it.”
The woman said she watched from her window as two men grabbed cash from the destroyed machine, which they bundled into a waiting car.
She added: “They weren’t saying anything - they were just working away quietly.
“They knew people were watching.”
The supermarket car park was sealed off on Saturday as scene of crime officers investigated what remained of the Tesco Bank machine.
A spokesman for Tesco said the company was cooperating fully with the police investigation.
It is not yet known how much, if any, money was stolen.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they wish to remain anonymous.