VILLAGERS were awoken to find ram-raiders trying to use a farm vehicle to steal a cash machine from a Post Office.

Stolen agricultural unit was used to smash the front of the shop in Langley Park, in County Durham, in the early hours of Monday morning. 

Police said a stolen Ford Fiesta and Transit van were also used in the incident, which happened at 3.35am on Monday in Quebec Street, with the thieves fleeing empty-handed in the car.

Neighbour Debbie Wilkinson, 44, who lives next door, with her three daughters and partner, said: “I woke up in the middle of the night and the house was shaking. 

“I thought it was a horrific thunderstorm. It was really loud. 

“I was quite disorientated as to what was going on until I looked out and saw the tractor trying to get access to the cash machine.

“They were unsuccessful in that. I think they got spooked when they saw us watching out of the window while we were on the phone to the police. 

“They scarpered in a getaway car, it was a little red one.

“It was quite scary. My kids’ bedrooms are above the Post Office.” 

Another resident, bus driver Andrew Cummings, said: “I heard a massive crash of glass at 3.40am.

“I noticed a yellow flashing light, looked out but couldn’t see anything without opening the window.

“I actually thought it was council recycling bin wagon starting very early as they didn’t get round with the bad weather. I guessed they’d dropped a load of glass.

“It all seemed so quick, really the only noise I heard was the smashing of glass and the noise a typical bin wagon would make but now I know it was that digger.

“The people in the house next door must of thought it was an earthquake.

“I really do feel for the people who run the Post Office, my heart goes out to them.”

The New Holland loader with a telescopic arm was abandoned at the scene.

Police taped off the area and investigators were gathering evidence.

There were concerns over structural damage to the building.

The Rams Head pub nearby was also cordoned off after its windows were put through in an unrelated incident over the weekend.

A Post Office spokesman said the nearest branches are Witton Gilbert and Ushaw Moor. It is unclear when the shop will reopen.

A police spokesman said: “No one was injured during the incident. However, it has caused significant damage to the front of the post office.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Durham Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.