RAM raiders who smashed into the front of a West Dorset garage have caused more than £20k worth of damage.

Thieves tried to steal the ATM machine in a raid on Maiden Newton Service Station at around 1am yesterday.

Police said they fled empty- handed.

The attack follows two similar incidents in West Dorset within weeks. It is not known if they are linked.

Maiden Newton Service Station in Dorchester Road was cordoned off by police for forensic teams to scour for evidence.

CCTV images were also analysed.

The garage and shop has been managed by the Andrews family for 25 years, with Melody Andrews and her son Olly Andrews currently in charge.

Mr Andrews estimated that the damage was going to cost at least £20,000. Mr Andrews, who said his mother was left distraught by the incident, said: “They went for the ATM. I don’t know for sure what they have taken, it is still too early to say.

“This is the first time its happened in the years we have been here. They have completely ruined the whole front of the shop, it’s going to cost in excess of £20,000 to repair the damage.”

The family are covered by insurance, but the shop now faces an indefinite period of closure.

Mr Andrews added: “It is too early to say how long we will be closed for. If I can be up and running tomorrow or in the next few days I will be, we won’t be closed longer than necessary.”

The latest ram raid follows two similar incidents in Dorset over the last few weeks. On April 8, a cash machine was stolen from a holiday park in Charmouth, with police believing the thieves had used a stolen car to carry out the raid.

On March 30, a post office in Mosterton was ram raided with thieves targeting an ATM but were unsuccessful.

On the latest raid, a spokesman for Dorset Police said: “ Unknown offenders had used a vehicle to gain entry to the service station causing damage to shop front, attempting to steal the ATM.

“They were unsuccessful and it is believed they left empty handed. Detectives in Weymouth are investigating.

“Witnesses and anyone with information are asked to call Dorset Police on 101 quoting incident number 23:27.”