THIEVES escaped empty handed after smashing a JCB stolen from nearby Forest Lodge Garden Centre into the Bucks Horn Oak service station in the early hours of Monday.

Hampshire Police has confirmed an attempt was made to steal an external ATM from the forecourt of the Gulf garage, on the A325 Bordon Road opposite Alice Holt Forest, using a telehandler JCB at 2.25am on February 12.

The JCB had been stolen from nearby Forest Lodge Garden Centre shortly before.

A police spokesman said: "Extensive damage was caused to the front of the shop and the ATM, but it appears nothing was stolen."

Bucks Horn Oak service station was the victim of another botched ram-raid last August, on the same night as another failed break-in at Liphook post office.

On that occasion the bungling criminals first used a silver 4x4 to smash into the wall of the Gulf service station between 3.30am and 4am, leaving a hefty hole in the wall of a storeroom, but were unable to extract the garage’s safe and escaped empty handed.

A few minutes later, at around 4.15am, the thieves turned up in Liphook and smashed into the side of the village’s Co-op and post office.

Again they left a large hole in the wall of the building, but due to the rubble burying the safe, the thieves once more took nothing and drove off down Headley Road.

Police later discovered an abandoned Mitsubishi 4x4 in woods at Longmoor Army Camp, which is thought to have been the vehicle used in both crimes.

In what is fast becoming a common offence in the rural area south of Farnham, a tractor was also stolen from a riding stables in Churt in the early hours of Sunday, January 28 and used in a ram raid on an ATM three miles away in Lindford.

Just after 2.20am on January 28 offenders again used a telehandler tractor to smash part of a wall at the village’s SPAR store and pull the ATM out of the building.

The cash machine, installed less than a week prior, was then driven away on the back of a dark coloured pick-up vehicle.

The John Deere tractor had been stolen earlier that night from Mayfair Farm Riding Stables in Churt Road, and was abandoned at the scene.

Anyone with information about any of the above offences should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101.