RAM raiders used a forklift truck to smash a hole in a building to steal a cash machine before setting a getaway car on fire in an industrial estate.

Officers are investigating the theft of a cash machine after it was stolen from the old Natwest, in High Street, Manningtree, at the junction of Brook Street, at around 2.10am this morning.

A number of suspects wearing balaclavas were reported to have been seen to use a forklift truck to create a hole in the wall of the building.

The cash machine was then pulled from the building.

Shortly after the cash machine was removed, officers gave chase to three vehicles, which were seen travelling along Clacton Road into Dead Lane, Lawford.

These vehicles - a Toyota pick-up truck, a blue Audi and a black Ford Fiesta – were believed to be driven by the suspects.

Following this pursuit the Toyota pick-up truck and Fiesta were recovered, however the suspects made off in the blue Audi.

An Audi matching this description was later discovered on fire in Wyncolls Road, Colchester, at around 9.30am this morning.

The forklift was found in School Lane, Lawford, while the cash machine was found near to the Toyota, which had been abandoned.

Witnesses reported descriptions of two suspects, however due to the number of vehicles involved in the pursuit, it is believed there were more.

One man was described as white, and was wearing a plain hoody and jeans.

The other man was described as stocky, and was wearing grey tracksuit bottoms.

DCI Josie Hayes said: “It is not known at this time if this incident is connected to the theft of a cash machine in Swan Street, Sible Hedingham, on Monday, May 1.

"However, detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit are keeping an open mind with regards to the similarities of the offences as they pursue numerous lines of enquiry.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Serious & Organised Crime Unit on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111