POLICE say a gang of thieves escaped with £37,000 after a building society raid on Wednesday.

Four smartly-dressed men are believed to have been involved in the incident, at the headquarters of the Darlington Building Society, in Yarm Road, Darlington.

Staff were evacuated from the building just before 2.30pm because of a fire alarm. While they were outside, a cash box containing the money was stolen.

Police later recovered a dark car seen leaving the scene and an empty cash box, which was found at the town's railway station.

Yesterday, two men, aged 24 and 46, from the Liverpool area, were charged in connection to the incident. They are due to appear at Sedgefield magistrates court this morning.