TWO suspected thieves were discovered hiding in bushes after allegedly trying to force their way into a petrol station cash machine.

Police said a stihl saw to cut into a door at the side of the Texaco garage in Whalley Road, Read, but fled into fields after a resident raised the alarm at 3.15am yesterday.

Officers said the suspects were discovered around an hour later after the police helicopter and dog team were deployed.

Garage bosses said they had only just got the cash machine up and running again after a previous attempted break-in in August when thieves climbed through the roof.

A 36-year-old man from Blackburn and a 36-year-old man from Bolton were arrested on suspicion of burglary and were last night in custody.

Police said they were also investigating whether two vehicles found at the scene were stolen.

Residents described the incident as 'worrying'.


Hanif Master, 49, retail manager at the garage, said a staff member came to open up at about 6am and the police were already there.

He said: "We had a break-in in August last year and we were without an ATM until April.

"They came through the roof last time.

"Customers were so frustrated because there was no ATM and it took so long to install a new one.

"It causes my customers a lot of inconvenience as it is the only one in the area.

"They forced the door to break it open. There is lots of debris on the floor but they didn't take anything and they did not manage to get into the shop."

One resident, who was woken up by the helicopter at around 2am, said: "I go to the shop everyday and use the cash machine two or three times a week. It is very convenient.

"It is the only one in the vicinity so now it means having to get a bus into town. It is very inconvenient for elderly people who will have to travel out of the village.

"I don't think they will install another one there after this if it keeps getting damaged.

"It is worrying. I know they are doing it in the middle of the night and nobody was hurt but it is harming the public."

Resident Gary Dale, 47, said: "If they are out-of-towners coming in and doing this it does give us cause for concern about crime."

Sean Birkett, 45, director of the neighbouring Read Garage Ltd, said: "It took them so long to put the machine back in after the last time. It was off for about six to eight months. They lost a lot of business when that happens.

"They need barriers to stop people coming on to the forecourt. They are not 24 hours so that would help increase security."

A police spokeswoman said someone reported hearing a 'sawing' noise and seeing something going on at the garage at around 3.15am on Monday.

"When we got there two men ran off and were found in fields behind the garage," she said.

"The helicopter and dog patrol were deployed. Two men were then found in some bushes at around 4.30am."

She said they found a Ford Galaxy and blue Peugeot panel van and were looking into the possibility they were stolen.

She said it was too early to say if the incident was linked to other attempts to steal cash machines in the area.

Last month ram-raiders caused significant damage to the Aldi supermarkets in Great Harwood and Blackburn and the Post Office in Coal Clough Lane in Burnley after attempting to steal ATMs.