RAM-RAIDERS smashed a hole in the wall of a bank with a digger before escaping with a cash machine full of money.
The raid happened at Barclays Bank, in New Street, Oundle, at about 2am on Tuesday, when a gang of men smashed through the branch wall using a JCB digger.
They then loaded the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) into the back of a 4x4 car, before driving off.
Police have not ruled out the possibility that the raid is linked to two others in Northamptonshire which took place in August and October.
The town was also hit by ram-raiders last year, when a cash machine was stolen from the Co-op, in St Osyth’s Lane.
The bank was closed on Wednesday while builders assessed the considerable damage caused and police carried out investigations at the scene.
Part of the pavement was also closed because of the rubble spilling out into the street.
A Barclays spokesman said they were unable to reveal how much money had been in the machine.
He said: “There has been quite extensive damage to the building and we have been forced to close for the time being.
“Builders are looking at the damage to see when we can open again.
“The hole in the wall that has been made is quite a way from the main door, but there will be a lot of work to be carried out. The cash machine is the only thing that was taken.
“We will provide any CCTV we have to police.”
Police were unable to issue a description of the car used during the incident or reveal how many people were involved in taking the machine.
Last October, the Co-op, in St Osyth’s Lane, Oundle, was subjected to a similar raid where the cash machine was taken from the side of the building by thieves using a fork-lift truck.
The machine was later discovered after being emptied and abandoned by the thieves.
Councillor David Bateman, who represents the Oundle Ward for East Northamptonshire District Council, said he was shocked to hear about another incident in the normally quiet town.
He said: “It is a shock to see something like this happen, especially after the raid last year. “I am sure if there is CCTV available then it will be being looked at. There should be a way of tracing the vehicle using the cameras.
“It does seem like there is nowhere that is safe any more.”
The raid is the latest in a series to have occurred across Northamptonshire over the last three months.
The first took place in Rothwell, near Kettering, in the early hours of Saturday, August 13.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire police said: “Due to the early stages of the investigation, it is unclear whether this incident is connected to previous ram-raids.
“Officers are however keeping an open mind.”
Anyone with information about the raids is asked to contact Northamptonshire police by calling 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.