THIEVES used gas which was then deliberately ignited to blow open a cash machine in Darlington on Thursday, police have said.

The thieves targeted the cash machine outside a Matalan store on Neasham Road at approximately 1.20am.

Debris from the explosion, which was heard two miles away, was spread over a 50ft area of the car park surrounding the store.

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Inspector Chris Knox, from Darlington Neighbourhood Police Team, said: "Following our ongoing investigation into Thursday's explosion at a cash machine in Darlington, I can confirm that we now believe the blast was caused by gas which was deliberately ignited.

"Officers are continuing to follow up a number of lines of enquiry and I would once again like to reassure residents that this was a targeted and isolated incident.

"I would like to appeal to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area around the time of the incident, which took place at 1.20am, to contact us on 101, quoting incident number 20 of October 26."