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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Tunnel gang targets cash machine
The tunnel was supported with poles (pic: MEN Syndication)
An audacious plot to break into a cash machine was foiled after workmen found a 12m (40ft) tunnel heading towards it.

Workers at a building site close to Fallowfield Retail Park, Manchester, uncovered the tunnel dug out from a nearby railway embankment.

The shaft, just about 6m (20ft) short of its target, had electric lighting and scaffolding support.

Greater Manchester Police said they were treating the digging of the tunnel as part of an attempted burglary.

Workers were digging into the ground near the retail park to lay electric cables when they breached the top of the tunnel.

The 1.5m (5ft) high passage, supported with scaffold poles and boards, has now been filled with concrete.

It's very well constructed, a semi-professional job with lighting, a fresh air supply and very well shored and lined out
Mick Duffy, building site worker

Police sealed off the area near the Blockbuster store to examine the site on Birchfields Road, Fallowfield, after being alerted on Thursday morning.

The entrance of the tunnel was found at the embankment of the railway line which runs behind the retail park.

A wooden trap door, covered with soil, hid the entrance to the passage, which was only accessible with a ladder.

Inside, builders found a wheelbarrow and shovels the would-be thieves used for digging and moving earth.

Mick Duffy, from Stainforth Construction, told the BBC that his fellow workers puzzled over the discovery before realising what it was.

"At that stage we've notified the police because it is looking very strange and it would appear somebody was tunneling from outside the site boundary towards the cash machine.

"It's very well constructed, a semi-professional job with lighting, a fresh air supply and very well shored and lined out."

The railway line behind the shops is a busy route which supports frequent trains between Manchester Piccadilly and the airport.

It is believed the thieves were planning to dig a hole under the machine and then move it away through the tunnel.

It is not known how long the gang had been digging - or what they did with all the soil.

Map showing the tunnel in Fallowfield

Inside the tunnel built to raid the cash machine

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