Sussex Police are appealing for information after a Co-op Group convenience store in Rudgwick, West Sussex, was ram-raided over the weekend using a forklift truck.

The incident took place at 2.45am on Sunday morning (September 9). Three thieves used a stolen JCB telescopic forklift to break down the store’s external wall and remove the store’s cash machine.

The offenders then made off with the ATM using a 4x4 vehicle and silver Subaru. The robbers travelled southbound on the A281 leaving the stolen forklift, from the nearby town of Horsham, at the scene.

Neighbours in the local area were woken by the noise of the forklift truck and rushed to the scene but were threatened by the offenders. Police helicopters were deployed to search for the raiders, who have not yet been traced.

The ram-raid damaged the store room area of the Rudgwick store but left the sales area intact meaning the store was able to reopen just before lunchtime on Sunday.

Commenting on the incident, Sussex Police detective constable Kirstie Neal said: “We are appealing for anyone with information on this incident to come forward to us immediately.

“This crime occurred in the middle of the night when the suspects knew there would be fewer witnesses, but they would have made a large amount of noise.”

She added: “The three suspects wore dark clothing and masks covering their faces and were at the scene for around five minutes.”

To report information to Sussex Police, call 101 quoting 180 of 09/09 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.