POLICE are investigating two ram raids which took place in the early hours of this morning.

During the first, which happened at 2.30am, suspects driving a dark coloured Ford Transit van reversed into the front of the Premier store, on Front Street, in Sedgefield.

Once inside, they stole a number of items before driving off.

A short time later at around 2.50am, the van then reversed into the front of D&J Jordan, in Trimdon Station.

The suspects stole cigarettes and a quantity of cash before making off towards Wheatley Hill.

Police also believe a burglary which happened at 1.40am at the Navy Club, in East Street, Blackhall Colliery, is potentially linked to the ram raids.

During this incident the suspects broke into the building, stole a small amount of money and damaged a number of items before making off in a dark coloured van.  

Officers are appealing for anyone with any information on the incidents to contact them on 101, quoting incident number 20, 22 or 53 of January 16.

Alternatively, information can be passed on to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

The Northern Echo:

Residents said they are shocked by the incident and believe it happened in the early hours of this morning.

One resident said: "It's awful.

"I think something ploughed into the front of the shop. The police have been here since early this morning."