POLICE have warned shoppers to be on their guard after a cloning device was found on a cashpoint in Southend town centre.

The device, fitted to the front of the machine at Santander, in Southend High Street, could take a copy of card details.

Shopper Bonnie Bluemore and her boyfriend Mark Phillips noticed something was wrong. Mr Phillips “wiggled” the front of the machine and the device came away in his hands.

Essex Police have urged shoppers to be cautious.

A spokesman said: “Be extra careful when using cashpoints.

“Make sure nobody is hovering nearby and don’t count your money in the street.

“Keep your mind on your surroundings – if you’re chatting on your mobile phone or listening to your iPod, you won’t hear trouble approaching.”

Ms Bluemore, from Southchurch, said: “It was the one right next door to Thorntons and I went to get a mini statement.

“When I put my card in, the deposit box kept opening and closing. I thought it was a bit weird and took my card back.

“My boyfriend wiggled the front of the machine and a fake front just came off completely in his hand.”

Ms Bluemore, 31, said she had never seen one before.

She added: “You hear about these things.

“I took it straight into the bank and we rang up the fraud department and cancelled our cards.

“Another lady who had used the machine did, also.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Police attended Santander in Southend High Street, on Tuesday, just after noon, after reports from an engineer a device was attached to the cashpoint.

“The device was removed and taken to Southend police station.

“If anybody witnessed any suspicious activity around the cashpoint they are asked to call Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.”

A Santander spokesman added: “Santander can confirmadevice was found on the cashpoint at the Southend High Street branch.

“The device has been removed and the police have been alerted.

“If customers have any concerns, they should contact their card provider.”