THIEVES escaped with cash after failing to steal an ATM.

Police today launched a manhunt to catch two raiders who smashed the windows of the East of England Co-op store in Coopers Lane, Clacton, at about 4.30am yesterday.

They tried to remove a cash machine inside the shop after they forced their way into the premises.

The pair failed to get the machine but did get into it before making off with an unknown amount of cash in a getaway car.

The shop was closed yesterday while police carried out forensic investigations and repairs were made.

An eye witness, who lives a short distance from the Co-op, said she saw the police presence while walking her six-year-old son to school at about 8.30am yesterday.

She said: “It is stupid that someone would even attempt to do something like that.

“There was two police cars and four police officers there when I walked past and also two of those guards who transport money.

“The windows were smashed and the outside of the cash machine was tampered with.

“The window was actually put through where the inside part of the cash machine was. All the wires were hanging out the window and it looked like it had been pulled apart.”

Yesterday’s raid was the latest in a series on cash machines in Co-op stores around Essex.

In 2018, a gang of raiders successfully made off with an ATM from a Co-op in Halstead after ramming into the shop’s wall with a heavy duty vehicle.

And in 2017, a similar incident occurred when a JCB Teleporter smashed into the shop front of a Co-op in Sible Hedingham before the cash machine was stolen.

Raiders also targeted the Co-op shop in Dedham High Street in December 2017. They left empty-handed but caused considerable damage to the shop.

Police are asking for anyone with information to call 101 quoting incident 105 of 9 January.