The raiders used a hydraulic hoist at the back of the vehicle to make the hole in the wall at a petrol station in Clones, Co Monaghan, yesterday morning.
When gardaí heard the alarms go off they arrived to find the tyres on their two patrol cars had been slashed.
But that didn’t deter the boys in blue who jumped into their own private cars and rushed to the scene at the Maxol filling station.
As they arrived they saw two of the raiders leaving in a lorry with an Bank of Ireland ATM in the back of it. Two accomplices took off in a black BMW.
The gang made their getaway shortly before 5am. But their robbery attempt quickly evaporated as they realised the gardaí were closing in on the slow-moving lorry.
Two of the masked raiders abandoned the lorry and the ATM, which contained thousands of euro. They then jumped into the BMW and escaped with their colleagues.
Another patrol later found the black BMW burnt out a short distance from the village of Newbliss, which is four miles from Clones.
Gardaí said the four raiders did a lot of damage to the filling station which is on the outskirts of the town on the Monaghan Road.
“It was like a bomb blew in the front wall,” a garda spokesman said.
“They reversed the lorry into the wall to demolish it and then attached straps to the machine which was then hoisted onto the back of the lorry,” he said.
Gardaí said they had since returned the machine to the Bank of Ireland and were seeking information from people who may have seen the black BMW, registration 00 D 76284, after it was stolen in Malahide, Co Dublin, last Tuesday night.
Gardaí suspect that it might be the work of a Dublin-based gang who may be responsible for a similarly unsuccessful theft of an ATM in Carlow last May.