A GROUP of masked men broke into two banks and attempted to steal cash machines in a series of failed heists.

Sussex Police believe the Uckfield incidents are "part of a wider series across the South East" and the force has launched Operation Kafka to track down those responsible.

They have released CCTV images from one of the targeted banks in an attempt to track down the masked intruders.

The first break-in came at the HSBC branch in High Street, Uckfield, at about 3am last Friday, with a second attempted burglary at another HSBC branch in High Street, Lewes, three days later.

"In both cases, entry has been gained to the bank foyer but attempts to remove the cash machine from inside have been unsuccessful," a Sussex Police spokesman said.

The Argus: CCTV images show the failed bank heist CCTV images show the failed bank heist

The force is now urging anyone with information which could help them track down the men picture above to come forward.

Detective Chief Inspector Alasdair Henry said: “These two incidents appear to be part of a wider series across the South East, and we are working closely with our colleagues in other forces to share information in an effort to find those responsible.

“Although the suspects have left empty-handed, their actions still have a serious impact on the businesses targeted and people in the wider community.

“Rest assured, each incident is being thoroughly investigated by our officers using the technology and forensic resources available to us.

“If anyone has any information about either of the burglaries, or if they recognise the people pictured in the CCTV image, please get in touch. This includes if you have witnessed somebody acting suspiciously in the vicinity of a bank or ATM.

“No matter how small you think the information may be, it could help us piece together a bigger picture of what has happened and help us identify those responsible.”

Anyone with information on these two incidents, or the idntity of the men pictured, is being urged to contact police online or by calling 101 quoting Operation Kafka.

If a crime is ongoing at the time of the call, ring 999.

Any information about these incidents will be treated in confidence.

If people would prefer to pass on information anonymously, this can be done via the independent charity Crimestoppers online or by calling 0800 555 111.