POLICE are hunting masked raiders, armed with a machete and a sledgehammer, who carried out a daylight attack on a Darlington jewellers.

Four men, wearing balaclavas and tracksuits, targeted D&H Jewellers, in Queen’s Arcade, just before 5pm today (Friday, November 9).

After attacking a window they grabbed some of the stock, believed to include Rolex watches, before making their getaway in a nearby car.

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Last night, Act Det Insp Andy Crowe, of Durham and Darlington CID, said: “They have reached into the shop, via the broken window, and when the offenders were challenged by the staff, one person has threatened them with a machete-type implement before they have stolen a small quantity of jewellery.”

No one was hurt in the raid, during which other businesses closed their shutters to protect themselves.

One witness, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ““I heard a loud bang and ran up to the shop.

“There was a man waving the machete right in front of me, it was like something from a film.

“Women and children were running away screaming and shouting, and then the gang ran off and got into the car.

“It was really frightening.”

Act DCI Crowe said two cars have been found by police and are being examined in relation to the robbery.

“We know they have run back out into Commercial Street and got into a waiting VW Touran, displaying the registration MM07XAL,” he said. “We know that that vehicle has driven up to the traffic lights on Bondgate and turned right at speed onto Greenbank Road, narrowly missing the oncoming traffic. That was later found abandoned in the rear of Dodds Street.

“We believe there is a silver Ford Focus that is also connected to the incident which was in the area around the time the VW Touran appeared. This has then been found abandoned in a field in Barton, North Yorkshire.”

Act DCI Crowe said investigations were being carried out with other forces.

“We are in the process of conducting a significant number of inquiries,” he said. “The logisitics of what we are aware of at this time is going to cover several force areas.”

Asked if the raid was being linked to any other crimes, he said: “It is difficult to say. I cannot rule it out, but I would like to think that this is an isolated incident.”

The detective said he wanted to reassure the public that crimes such as this were a rarity in Darlington.

“(The public) have nothing to fear,” he said. “Figures show that crime in Durham and Darlington is dropping significantly throughout this period of time and the chances of becoming a victim of crime are significantly reduced.”

Anyone with information about the robbery or who may have seen the vehicles either before, during or after the raid, are asked to ring the police on the non emergency 101 number.