A CASH machine was stolen as a West Dorset post office was ram raided last night.

Thieves drove a vehicle into the front of the Orchard Way post office in Mosterton, near Beaminster, and made off with an ATM machine containing cash.

Detectives are appealing for information about the incident, which occurred between 9pm yesterday and 4.20am this morning.

Barry Nevin, the shop’s owner, said: “They didn’t hang around. I think that was done in seconds. They knew what they were doing.”

Mr Nevin said damages could cost up to £7,000.

He added: “I’m trying to see the good in it but I can’t see a single thing.

“It’s happened. There’s not much I can do about it. I’ll clean up and start again.”

Simon Thompson, from Dorset Community Action, said the post office and shop 'should be open' on Tuesday.

He said: "The Post Office think it should reopen tomorrow. The front has all been boarded up."

Mr Thompson praised Mr Nevin for his attitude in response to the incident.

He said: "I have great sympathy for people like that who provide a local service despite the things they come up against."

Detective Constable Tom Isaac, of Weymouth CID, said: “At 4.20am this morning, a member of the public called Dorset Police reporting a ram raid.

“The front doors of the building had been severely damaged and the alarm was sounding.

“A freestanding ATM – containing an unknown quantity of cash – had been stolen from the location.

“I believe that the vehicle used to force entry will not only have caused a great deal of noise, but will also have sustained damage.

“It is also very likely that removal of the heavy cash machine required more than one offender.”

Police say they are in the early stages of their investigation and have not issued a description of the offenders.

DC Isaac said: “Mosterton is a quiet place and it’s quite possible that someone will have noticed a disturbance of some sort while this burglary took place.

“It is also possible that someone saw a vehicle – likely with front end damage – speeding away from the area.

“I urge any witnesses, and anyone with any information about this incident, to contact Dorset Police immediately.”

A spokesman for Dorset Police has confirmed that the vehicle used for the offence, a green Mitsubishi Pajero was found abandoned in Crewkerne in Somerset at around 9.30am this morning.

Police checks revealed that the vehicle had been stolen from an address in Gillingham.

The cash machine was located around a quarter of a mile away from where the vehicle was discovered and the cash had been removed.

DC Isaac is also keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the vehicle travelling from Mosterton to Crewkerne early this morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting incident number 29:68.