A HERO bus driver and passengers helped stop a smash-and-grab gang from stealing a cash machine from a store in Edinburgh’s West End - by bravely blocking in their getaway car and calling police.
The masked men had ripped an ATM from the wall of Sainsbury’s in Shandwick Place at about 3.30am yesterday using a chain tied to a stolen luxury SUV.
But after being confronted by the driver and passengers, they raced off towards Haymarket Terrace in the 155mph Audi Q5 leaving the crumpled ATM behind in the street as police swooped.
“If we hadn’t turned up, they would’ve got away with that machine,” said passenger Jake Buchanan, 24, who was on the N25 at the time.
The bus, carrying two other people heading towards Waverley, pulled into a stop opposite the store as the drama unfolded right in front of them.
“There was a car parked a bit squint and then we saw the smashed windows,” said Mr Buchanan, a former security steward from Gilmerton, “Three men were inside the shop who’d smashed their way in. They had their hoods up and faces covered up – carrying massive crowbars. There was a thick chain around the machine and they ripped it out – it was all on the bus CCTV.”
He said the quick-thinking driver then manoeuvred his bus into the path of the £40,000 Audi, driven by a fourth gang member, while radioing for help.
“He tried to block them in but they weren’t bothered,” said Mr Buchanan. “They carried on trying to get the machine into the car. It was only when they saw the blue lights they left. I know they caused a lot of damage but we definitely stopped them getting the cash machine.”
Detectives believe the same Audi Q5, registration J9JDF, stolen from Inchkeith Crescent in Kirkcaldy between midnight and 4am on Tuesday, was used in the raid. The gang is thought to have targeted a supermarket on Roslin’s Main Street at 2.50am on Wednesday – stealing hundreds of pounds from a till. Officers believe the men had previously tried to steal a car from the Seafield area of Kirkcaldy on Friday, April 27.
DI Graham Grant said: “While the men were successful in gaining entry to the shop, they have been unable to steal the ATM and have left it in the street before making their escape. We are continuing our liaison with the store, but it appears nothing has been stolen at this time.”
Emergency tram engineers gave the nearby tracks the all-clear by 5.10am in time for the day’s first service. The Sainsbury’s store was shut for nine hours, reopening at 3pm, as workmen carried out repairs.
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “The store was temporarily closed to support the police with their investigation and we’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”