Inept thieves who tried to break open a cash machine using welding torches only succeeded in setting fire to the money.

The failed attempt to rob the ATM took place in the southern Kazakhstan region of Almaty.

Pictures of the aftermath of the criminals' doomed attempt at theft show bundles of scorched 5,000-KZT notes that have been rendered unusable.

Each note is worth about NZ$22, so the thieves stood to get away with a substantial haul if their scheme had been successful, in a country where the average monthly wage is 17,3685 KZT (NZ$763).

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It is not clear why the thieves, having gone to the trouble of procuring welding torches, had not realised that their naked flames would set fire to the paper banknotes they were trying to steal.

Inept thieves who tried to break open a cash machine using welding torches only succeeded in setting fire to the money. Photo / Australscope
Inept thieves who tried to break open a cash machine using welding torches only succeeded in setting fire to the money. Photo / Australscope

Their hapless efforts immediately set off alarms and police quickly arrived at the crime scene.

The ATM was damaged beyond repair, and the bank involved, which was not named in reports, says the damage will be paid for by its insurance company.

It is unclear whether the police have arrested any suspects in relation to the failed robbery.

Spokesman for the Department of Internal Affairs Aiman Mirzekova explained that for legal reasons details of the investigation are being kept confidential at present.

- Australscope