Two thieves narrowly missed being caught in the act when they tried to steal a cash machine from a petrol station.

The pair pulled the hole-in-the-wall from its mountings and managed to place it in the back of a stolen white van at Sidley service station in Hollier's Hill, Bexhill, in the early hours of this morning.

Detective Sergeant Tony Webb said: "Thanks to a call from a nearby resident woken by the commotion at about 2.30am we were quick to the scene.

"However the men fled just before we arrived, leaving the van's engine still running. We made an immediate search, including police dogs, but were not able to trace them.

"We are following a number of lines of enquiry and are in touch with other police forces investigating similar incidents.

"I would appeal to witnesses or anyone with information to call police on 101 or email or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."