Three men wanted after ATM blast

WANNABE thieves failed to break into an ATM at Longford and then crashed their stolen getaway car.

Northern detectives are hunting for three men, including one who is tall, athletic and a fast runner, in relation to the crime spree on Thursday.

Authorities were alerted to an explosion at the Browns supermarket complex in Wellington Street about 2.45am.

The ATM in the wall of the complex had been extensively damaged and firefighters were on scene.

Detective Inspector Scott Flude, of Northern Criminal Investigation Branch, said an unsuccessful attempt was made to gain entry to the ATM by using an oxyacetylene gas bottle, which caused the explosion.

No money was taken, but police believe the gas, usually used for welding, was stolen.

Damage is estimated at $80,000.

Immediately after the explosion, witnesses saw a tall and athletic man sprinting towards a white Mitsubishi Outlander SUV, which already contained two other men.

The trio drove off and travelled north towards the Bass Highway.

Police recovered the vehicle later on Thursday morning in East Street, Carrick, where it had crashed into a ditch.

The three men dumped the damaged car and fled.

Inspector Flude said enquiries revealed that the SUV was a rental car which had been stolen from Earl Street, Launceston.

He urged anyone who saw suspicious activity in any of the above locations, to call Launceston detectives on 6336 3701, the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Previous ATM raids include an unsuccessful attempt in 2011 at George Town, and a spate in 2009 at Newstead, Westbury, St Helens, Orford, Latrobe and Penguin.

Some past ATM raids have been successful.

Longford resident Louise Dwyer said Thursday's ATM explosion was unbelievable.

``The supermarket is still open and operating, but there is a horrible smell in there,'' she said.

An ANZ spokesman said the bank had a Longford branch, and customers could still get cash out in the IGA supermarket using Eftpos.

He apologised for any inconvenience and said the bank hoped to replace the ATM in the next few weeks.

Email: ctang@examiner.com.au

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