Ram-raiders lead police on 130mph chase

POLICE were today hunting three ram-raiders who used a stolen lorry to smash into a store before leading officers on a terrifying high-speed chase through Suffolk.

POLICE were today hunting three ram-raiders who used a stolen lorry to smash into a store before leading officers on a terrifying high-speed chase through Suffolk.

The dramatic pursuit reached speeds in excess of 130mph and was only called off when the raiders sped through Needham Market High Street at speeds in excess of 100mph.

The drama unfolded when the gang shattered the peace and quiet of the early hours in Elmswell today when they drove the flatbed lorry through the front of Elmswell Co-op Stores in New Road just after 1am.

The lorry destroyed much of the front of the store and residents told police they saw three men go inside.

Police said it was believed the men attempted to steal a cash machine from inside the store but were unable to remove it.

What appeared to be the remnants of the machine could be seen lying on its side near the front of the store today.

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Suffolk police today said the men were seen to make off at high speed in a stolen white Nissan car but they were spotted by a patrol car from Suffolk police's roads policing unit a short time later on the A14 at Haughley.

The officers went in pursuit of the stolen car, sparking a white-knuckle chase along the Ipswich-bound carriageway of the A14.

As the police followed, the raiders left the A14 at the junction with the A1120 heading towards Needham Market before heading on to the B1113 into Needham Market and along High Street.

Suffolk police decided to call off the pursuit on safety grounds when the raiders reached Needham Market and air support was called in. The Suffolk force helicopter was scrambled but was unable to locate the men.

The stolen car was later found dumped in a car park in Foxglove Avenue, Needham Market.

The three offenders are described as male, one of whom is described as medium build, and were possibly wearing balaclavas or hooded tops.

Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone who may have seen either the Nissan or the flat-bed truck prior to the ram raid to get in touch.

The car was a Nissan 200 SX Turbo, which had been stolen from Colchester overnight (registration number K321 POY).

When the police recovered the vehicle it was found that the number had been changed to P310 VYS.

The lorry was a Leyland, with index N193 VOL.

Police said they would also be interested to hear from any residents of Foxglove Avenue who may have seen the offenders transfer into another car, as it is believed they may have had a vehicle in waiting.

Anyone with information should is asked to call DC James Gidney at Stowmarket CID on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Today's ram-raid was the latest in a string of attacks on rural stores in Suffolk in recent weeks. Elmswell became the sixth town to be targeted by raiders this month.

Suffolk police were unable to comment on whether any of the raids were linked.

Anyone with information about the raid should call Stowmarket CID on 01473 613500.

VILLAGERS today spoke of their shock following the ram raid in Elmswell.

As the quiet and peaceful rural community awoke to the scene of devastation at the town's Co-op many said the attack had left them feeling worried.

Elmswell mum Tina Whatling said: “It was the gossip going around the school playground today. I feel sorry for older people because they'll feel threatened by this. It's their local store. As soon as it gets dark you just want to stay at home.”

She said the shop had been broken into before.

Jacqueline Stanners, who lives next door to the Co-op, said she had slept through the entire raid.

However she said: “It's absolutely frightening. It's a nice community and it's never been targeted like this before.”

Mrs Stanners said the Co-op was in the process of being extended.

Another resident who did not wish to be named said: “Elmswell is a lovely quiet community and it's shocking that people come here and do things like this.”

Meanwhile dozens of staff were onsite this morning clearing away the mess.

A skip was quickly filled with twisted metal and smashed glass.

A police officer remained at the scene for much of the morning.

TODAY'S raid at Elmswell made it the sixth town this month to be targeted. The other raids were carried out in:

East Bergholt - Saturday, November 24: Thieves smashed their way into East Bergholt Post Office and Store, in The Street, to steal cash and cigarettes. Two men are believed to have used a sledgehammer to smash open the door of the shop after it closed.

Dedham - Friday, November 16: Masked raiders struck at the Co-op, in High Street, Dedham. One man carried a shotgun. Customers and staff were forced onto the floor before the men escaped with cash from the till.

Ipswich - Friday, November 9: A ram-raider drove into the front of Cineworld in Cardinal Park, Ipswich. A Jeep smashed through its glass front doors in an early morning heist. The man fled empty-handed after crashing into the cashpoint.

Long Melford - Thursday, November 8: Masked raiders brandishing a shotgun and a baseball bat burst into The Patisserie in Hall Street, Long Melford. They ordered workers to hand over takings and shoppers to give up their purses.

Brantham - Thursday, November 1: Armed raiders struck at the Co-op store in Acacia Court, Brantham. One brandished a shotgun and shoppers were forced to lie on the floor before the men took money.

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