MASKED thieves caused more than £20,000 of damage when they ram-raided a village shop to steal its cash machine.

CCTV footage shows two men reversing a Land Rover, stolen form Newmarket, to the entrance to the Costcutter store in Parkway, Little Paxton, last Monday night (April 9).

The thieves broke into the shop using a hammer and attached chains to the ATM. One man got back into the stolen car and pulled the cash machine through the door and window of the shop.

They loaded it into a green Volvo estate and escaped.

Shop owner Jeyaseelan Thambirajah, 38, who owns a total of 11 Costcutter stores around the UK, told The Hunts Post: "This is the third time this has happened here.

"They smashed through the front of the shop, put chains around the cash machine and dragged it out."

He added that, although there was only about £1,000 in the machine, the total cost of repairing the building would run into thousands of pounds.

"They have caused us about £20,000 worth of damage this time - probably about £50,000 in total if you include all three times," he added. "It has left my staff feeling very frightened and has caused us a lot of hassle."

The shop was closed for business until Friday (April 13).

Mr Thambirajah said he had no option but to install pinhole shutters - despite a likely objection from Huntingdonshire District Council.

"Each time the shop has been targeted we have applied to HDC to put up shutters, but we have been refused," he said. "I don't know why they keep turning down our application - maybe because it's a conservation area."

A spokesman for HDC confirmed that an application for shutters had been refused and told The Hunts Post: "Little Paxton continues to be a low crime area. There is concern that external shutters would create a visually sterile area and give the impression that it suffers from a higher crime profile than is the case at present.

"It may encourage anti-social behaviour and give rise to a greater fear of crime.

"It was considered that the visual impact of the shutters would outweigh the benefits to crime prevention, particularly as more acceptable measures are available.

"The applicant was advised that internal shutters could be installed instead."