A police officer was attacked with a sledgehammer during a botched raid on a cash machine in Sandwell.
The 41-year-old officer escaped serious injury but was taken to hospital with multiple cuts, bruising and severe swelling to his face and arm.
He was one of two officers who were first on the scene following the attempted raid on the cash machine just before midnight on Sunday at a Tesco Express store ATM on Hamstead Road, Hamstead.
Three people were trying to break into the cash machine when police arrived on the scene, and one of the offenders smashed the window of the police car with a sledgehammer, hitting the officer in the arm and head in the process.
The gang then fled in a in what is believed to be a dark coloured, high powered, Audi A6 estate which was using false number plates.
Police confirmed the officer was from Sandwell and had been serving with the force since 2007, but would not name him.
He was taken to hospital following the attack but has since been discharged.
Chief Inspector Havrvi Khatkar, from West Midlands Police, said: “Day in, day out, our officers put their safety on the line to protect the public from some exceptionally dangerous criminals.
“Thankfully in this case the officer escaped major injury, but these were clearly desperate thieves who must be tracked down. As the gang drove off, the boot of the car was open. People who were in the area at the time may remember this.
“I’d urge those people to get in touch along with anyone who saw a dark coloured estate in the area before the crime.”
The store was closed at the time and no one else was injured.
All three men were dressed in dark coloured clothing and had their faces covered.
CCTV footage is currently being looked at by detectives, while house-to-house enquires have been carried out and forensic scene investigators have combed the site for clues.
Tools used in the raid and which were left at the scene have been sent for forensic examination.
An area around the store was sealed off for several hours while police conducted their inquiries.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101.