Eyewitnesses watched from their windows in disbelief as a gang ripped a cash machine out of a Market Harborough shop early this morning.
The raid involving a JCB digger to bulldoze out the shop wall, happened at around 2.40am today (Friday) at the Spar shop in Coventry Road.
Five men wearing balaclavas were involved in the raid, which lasted around six minutes. The gang then escaped in a white Audi hatchback, leaving the JCB and a Landrover at the scene.
Eyewitness Sarah Cleaver, who lives in flats overlooking the shop, told the Mail: "We were woken at 2.40am by this huge bang. It felt like a bomb had gone off.
"I ran into the kitchen and saw the side wall of the Spar smashed by the JCB and five men in balaclavas all scrabbling round in there, and removing money in like cases from the cash machine. It was surreal to see it.
"They were noisy, shouting in a very distinct accent. One of them seemed to be called Derek, because the man who seemed to be the leader shouted "hurry up Derek" twice."
She said she rang the police at 2.41am, but couldn't get through.
Another eyewitness on Coventry Road said: "There was a massive bang that woke me up and lots of shouting.
" I couldn't really see well because car lights were shining across the road into my bedroom window, but I realised what was going on and phoned the police."
This morning the Spar shop was closed and the area cordoned off as police investigated the latest in a long line of ATM machine burglaries.
It looks like at least two different gangs are targeting Leicestershire: one that uses a bulldozer to break into the cash machines, and one that favours explosive gas canisters.
DCI Widdowson said: "It's a regional issue across the East Midlands, and local and regional resources are being used to attack the problem."
He said the series of brief but noisy raids were often witnesses by local people. "The offenders are blatant" said DCI Widdowson.
He said witnesses should not approach the crime gang, but should immediately note down anything about the raid, including times, vehicle registration numbers and descriptions.
He said people could even record footage on their mobile phone, where it was safe to do so.
DCI Widdowson said the police were also talking to local businesses about how to make cash machines more secure, including the use of anti-ram raid bollards.
Leicestershire police said today Friday) that a dedicated team of officers is investigating the Market Harborough raid, viewing local CCTV footage and carrying out house-to-house enquiries as they piece together the circumstances surrounding the theft.
Officers would like to speak to anyone who may have seen or heard anything during the early hours of this morning.
They are particularly interested in anyone who saw the JCB being driven in the early hours towards the Spat shop, before today's raid.
If you have any information about the incident or who was responsible you are asked to contact 101, quoting crime number 17*429460.
South Leicestershire MP, Alberto Costa, has asked for an urgent meeting with Leicestershire's Chief Constable Simon Cole about the cash machine crime wave in Leicestershire.
Mr Costa has said he is "deeply concerned" about the spate of cash machine robberies in his constituency and across the county.