A long-running Burnley coal merchants was targeted in a £20,000 crime gang raid.
Three wagons and 14 tons of coal were stolen from the historic A & B Milligan Coal Merchants last night.
Nine wood burning stoves were also taken in the raid on the family-run firm which has been in business for more than 100 years.
The raiders smashed their way in to the Plumbe Street site before loading the company’s own wagons up with coal and stoves using a forklift truck.
The thieves then drove away in the lorries with the haul which police believe could top £20,000.
Stuart Milligan, who runs the family firm which has been based in Dean Mill for more than 20 years, said: “These people knew what they were doing. There must have been a gang of at least three to be able to drive off in the trucks.
“They must have driven off through the town so maybe somebody saw something.”
Mr Milligan continued: “The cost is in the thousands. We are still able to trade – we have just had to carry on.
“We have been based in Plumbe Street for 21 years but the company has been going for four generations.”
The break-in is believed to have happened between 6-30pm and 8-30pm on Wednesday night.
One of the three trucks has been recovered by police but a blue Leyland Daf wagon and a red Ford Transit pick-up truck are still missing.
Police have now launched a witness appeal for information to find the gang behind the raid.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “They have forced the padlock on the gates and gone in.
“They have made a hole in the wall and then loaded three trucks with pallets of coal and wood burners and have then driven off.
“We are investigating the matter and forensics teams and crime scene investigators attended.
“If anyone has seen anything suspicious they can contact police on 101 using the log number 0128 for January 23rd.”