Masked axe-wielding thugs smashed their way into a jewellers and snatched thousands of pounds of silver and watches in a terrifying early morning raid.
Shocked bosses at Peter Woodcock and Co, on the corner of Henry Street and Clifton Square, Lytham, told of their upset and distress after the 3am smash-and-grab incident.
Police say three men, all with their faces covered, used an axe and hammer to smash through a display window at the store before snatching the huge haul of jewellery and watches and running off.
No one was in the store at the time, but the owner today told how she arrived at the business on Saturday morning to be met by the devastating scene.
Police have made an urgent appeal for information following the raid – the latest serious incident in the Lytham area and the second time the jewellers has been targeted.
Officers believe the raiders loaded the stolen haul into a holdall before escaping on foot.
Shop owner Karen Woodcock told The Gazette she believes around £16,000 of items were taken.
She added: “It wasn’t nice coming to see a massive hole ripped out of your shop.
“But there is not much more we can do to protect ourselves as we have installed anti-bandit glass.
“We are trying to make a living here, it’s hard enough as it is with the recession going on.
“We don’t need idiots like these stealing our goods that we have worked hard for. We’re not just here for the fun of it, this is our livelihoods and robberies like these are very disruptive and upsetting.
“I have been up since 3am but this is our busiest time in the run up to Christmas so we can’t just shut, we just have to make do with what we can.”
One worker from the nearby Mohshina’s Indian takeaway, on Henry Street, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw three men, who were definitely English, I could hear them talking.
“I saw them smash the window with hammers and axes, it was all very scary.”
The worker said he witnessed the incident from inside his shop and was too terrified to go outside.
Det Sgt Stuart Reid, of Blackpool CID, said: “Three men with their appearances disguised smashed the front window of the shop and stole thousands of pounds of jewellery.
“All three men fled the scene on foot.
“We would ask anyone in Lytham, especially in the vicinity of Henry Street around 3am, to get in contact if they noted anyone acting suspicious.
“It is likely these men may have been carrying a holdall of some sort for the weapons they used.”
The raid comes just over three years after Peter Woodcock and Co was last targeted in a daylight robbery in August 2011.
On that occasion, raiders stormed the shop armed with machetes demanding access to the safe before stealing a substantial amount of jewellery.
It also comes after the alleged robbery of two security guards outside Santander on Clifton Street last November.
And in February this year Salford man Darren Peter Smith, 41, was jailed for three years after being found guilty of a robbery at Leonard Dews jewellers in Clifton Street, Lytham, in September 2011.
Smith entered the shop pretending to be a customer and allowed the entry of three masked, armed men, who then smashed the shop’s display cases and stole a number of high-value items.
Coun Leonard Davies, councillor for the Clifton ward on Fylde Council, said the incident was “a shock”.
“It’s a terrible shame, goodness knows what they can do for her now,” he added.
“We have not seen any police on the streets, that is the worrying factor.
“I am hoping that someone will come up with a solution but the only thing I can see that will help is more police on the beat, if we’re not careful, soon we will not have a jewellers in the square.”
In May this year the new head of policing in Fylde admitted he understood the concerns of people in the borough over such incidents.
Insp Mark Thackeray-Scott said there had been “a spike in incidents at the back end of last year” and pledged to make his officers as visible as possible, despite the huge cuts being faced by police.
There are no homes in the immediate area around the latest raid and most neighbouring businesses were also closed for the night as the incident took place.
If anyone has any information, they are urged to call Det Sgt Stuart Reid on (01253) 604157 or alternatively call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.