The theft happened at about 5 a.m. Friday at a Chase bank in Laguna Woods, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, reported.
Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said the suspects wrapped a cable around a drive-up ATM and tried to pull it out of the ground, but the cable snapped.
The suspects then used a tow truck to knock the ATM over, then loaded it onto a flatbed truck.
Police found the ATM dumped behind an auto shop several hours later, still sitting on the flatbed truck used to steal it with.
The truck was reported stolen from Santa Ana, police said.
It was not clear how much money was inside the ATM.
Police hope surveillance video from the parking lot will help them identify the suspects, who wore hooded sweatshirts to hide their faces.