THOUSANDS of pounds worth of jewellery was stolen in a shocking daylight smash-and-grab raid on a Lytham town centre jewellers.
Three masked men weilding machetes burst into Peter Woodcock and Co on the corner of Henry Street and Clifton Square and threatened the shop assistant before fleeing with “a six figure sum” of gems from the diamond specialists.
The terrifying incident happened in broad daylight in full view of passing shoppers in Clifton Square on Tuesday morning.
Police have described how the woman shop assistant was threatened by the raiders who demanded access to the safe and stole “a substantial amount” of jewellery.
The brazen thugs then made a swift getaway in a waiting car, driven by a fourth man.
Shocked eyewitnesses described how the drama unfolded in a matter of minutes.
Artist Harvey Foster, from St Annes, looked on from Lytham Heritage Centre, which faces the shop, and said: “All I heard was a bang, a lot of noise and a lot of shouting.
“There was a dark car and they all got in and I saw them dash off. They had their heads covered and there was a lot of confusion.”
Restaurant owner Mo Foster, of neighbouring Bosco, said: “They left in a car and sped off towards St Annes, It happened so quick.”
It is not the first time the centre of Lytham has been hit by armed jewellery raiders, with Woodcock’s themselves the subject of previous robberies in 2007 and 2002, while Leonard Dews, on Clifton Street, has also twice been targeted by armed thugs in recent years.
Police said no exact value had been put on the jewellery stolen, though they confirmed it was a six-figure sum.
Det Insp Andy Unsworth is leading the investigation and said: “This is a serious offence which has left the staff, although uninjured, extremely shaken and I would appeal to anyone who may have been in the area at the time who may have seen anything at all suspicious to contact police.”
A Lancashire Police helicopter was scrambled in a bid to find the getaway car, described as a gold coloured Honda Civic with the registration number RE06 ZDZ.
Eyewitnesses described the car speeding off towards St Annes, but police said they were reviewing CCTV footage of the area to establish exactly what happened.
The police can be contacted on 08451 253545.