SUMMERVILLE -- Even for 4 a.m., the scene was surreal: A man ramming an ATM with a forklift, rocking it back and forth, trying to lift it into a truck.

Gregory Drexler had just made an usual pit stop on his way to work Monday, grabbing a soft drink at a convenience store. He saw the apparent theft taking place at the First Federal Savings and Loan at 1595 Central Ave. in the Knightsville community. He dialed 911 on his cellphone and began walking over and yelling.

"It made me mad," Drexler said. "People work too hard for their money. You don't just steal it."

As Drexler closed in, the man leaped from the forklift and jumped in the truck, he said. "These guys peeled out and sped away with the lights off."

The forklift, its motor still running, was at the ATM when Dorchester County deputies arrived.

Deputies were searching Monday for two black men wearing hooded sweatshirts who drove off down Orangeburg Road in a red Dodge pickup truck.

No further description was available, sheriff's Maj. John Garrison said. Investigators are reviewing the bank's security video and searching for the truck.

The suspects evidently stole the forklift from a nearby construction site. The sheriff's report noted the machine "had several wires spliced under the steering wheel and reconnected."

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744.