A Cranleigh baker has described witnessing an attempted bank raid as ‘the most bizarre morning’ he has ever had in the village.
Simon Cornwell spotted the two balaclava-clad men ‘banging a digger’ against Lloyds TSB cashpoint in a bid to steal the High Street machine this morning (Friday September 28).
The owner of Celebration Cakes said: “I came into work at 5am, and I always park opposite the shop.
“But as I swung my car around my headlights shone on this digger banging into the wall a couple of times. A first I thought ‘why are they changing the cashpoint?’, then I woke up and realised what was happening.”
Simon ran across the road to alert another night baker at the store just yards away from the bank.
“I told him ‘they’re robbing the bank’, and with that I called the police,” he continued. “They asked me if I knew the registration number so bravely I walked over to the back of the truck and got it - they must have run off.”
He added: “It’s the most bizarre morning I’ve had here.”
The raid has sent shock waves throughout the village.
Kylie Bishop, of Leaders letting agency, said: “I got in just after 8am and saw a police officer and asked if it was a bank robbery and he said ‘one that’s gone wrong’.
“You wouldn’t expect something like this to happen in sleepy Cranleigh.”
But for some, the brazen attempted to steal cash is not so much of a surprise.
“With the state of the economy as it is at the moment, it’s not surprising that crime is on the increase,” said Simon Mitchell, owner of The Camera Shop, also on the High Street.
“Because we had a break-in last year, they stole about £5,000 worth of cameras and the police never found out who did it.
“The jewellers were raided a couple of years ago. It’s just reflection on the economy - there’s less and less money around so people are looking at getting it other ways.”
Angela Vaz, manager at Cockerill Shoes on the High Street, added: “I was quite shocked really. I can’t believe someone would try to steal a cashpoint, it’s desperate measures.
“Cranleigh’s such a small place, but you start hearing little things like this happening, I heard someone was attacked with a hammer outside the Co-op.”
But the vice chairman of Cranleigh Parish Council moved to reassure village residents.
Brian Cheesman said: “I’ve been a long-standing resident for 76 years and I can’t remember anything quite as bad as this. We did have a similar ram raid attempt at Nationwide about ten or 15 years ago.”
“But Cranleigh is a really safe and lovely place to live and work and something like this is most unusual.
“It’s good that the emergency services were on the scene quickly getting the place cleaned up.”
His words were echoed by Waverley Borough Commander Tom Budd, of Surrey Police, who said: “This type of offence is unusual in this area and neighbourhood officers are working closely with their CID colleagues to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum for local residents.”
As a result of the ram raid, damage was caused to the bank and to a wall adjoining a house opposite. After the first attempt to smash into the unit failed, the suspects reversed the digger in a bid to make a further attempt.
The High Street was closed this morning at its junction with Rowland Road and Victoria Road.
The bank is currently closed and is likely to remain shut for some time. The bank and the parade of buildings opposite are being surveyed for structural damage and some street furniture, including a lamp post has similarly been damaged.
Detectives in Waverley are appealing for witnesses.
Detective Constable Andrew Skoglund investigating said: “This incident has caused a large amount of damage and inconvenience to the local community. I am appealing to anyone who may have seen this distinctive digger making its way to the town centre.
“The machine was stolen overnight from the Godalming area and it seems it was driven to the cashpoint – it would have been noisy and I anticipate it would be quite an unusual sight at such an early hour of the morning. If you have any information about its movements or that of the offenders or the van, please call Surrey Police as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information can contact Surrey Police on 101 quoting reference P12284578. Alternatively the independent charity Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.