THE theft of an ATM cash machine from Newlands Holiday Park in Charmouth has sparked a security warning to local businesses.

Dorset police are investigating the incident, which is believed to have taken place between 9pm yesterday evening and 7am this morning, and have launched an appeal for witnesses.

The crime was reported to police at 7.30am this morning by a worker at the holiday park. It is not yet known how much money was in the freestanding cash machine when it was taken.

Police believe the cash dispenser was removed using a blue Mitsibushi 4 x 4 vehicle which was stolen overnight from Old Lyme Road in Charmouth.

The vehicle has now been found abandoned in Hawkchurch, Devon with the cash machine still in the boot but no money inside.

The incident also comes after another cash machine was stolen at in a ram raid at the Orchard Way post office in Mosterton, near Beaminster on March 30.

Dorset Police community support officer, Luke White, said: “Any businesses with a free-standing ATM please make sure it is secure, because it seems to be the small businesses that are being targeted.

“Also, anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious on Old Lyme Road last night, or seen people with a blue mitsibushi vehicle in Charmouth or Hawkchurch acting suspiciously, please get in touch.”

Anyone with information should call Dorset Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 14137.