A well known Burnley business has been targeted by 'Hatton Garden' style robbers who drilled through walls to get to a safe in a elaborate and well planned raid.
Staff turned up for work at Burnley Auctioneers yesterday morning to discover a number of internal walls, including thick brick walls, had been drilled through for the thieves to get to the safe.
The back of the safe was then hacked into and a quantity of cash stolen in the raid at the premises in Liverpool Road.
Lee Bradshaw, who owns the business with Claire Maher, said: "We couldn't believe what had happened at first, it was a shock.
"They have caused a real mess, it is a proper Hatton Garden style job. They have used an angle grinder or large drill to get through these walls."
The building was littered with rubble and bricks and a CCTV monitor and phone was also damaged in the raid.
The break in echoes the raid in 2015 when an underground safe deposit facility in London's Hatton Garden area was burgled. Known as the 'largest burglary in English legal history' the £14M heist involved the burglars entering the premises through a lift shaft then drilling through walls using industrial power drills to get to the vaults.
In the raid at Burnley Auctioneers Lee believes the culprits carefully planned the operation as last Saturday two men were caught on CCTV smashing a window at the premises.
Lee said: "They pulled up in a white transit van and two of them jumped out and threw the brick through the window.
"One of them can then be seen almost trying to climb into the premises."
The brick was thrown with such force it damaged a desk inside before bouncing off that and into a wall.
Lee believes the raiders may have been testing the premises to see if an alarm went off and if the police would arrive.
He added: "This happened on Saturday evening and we had an auction during the day when there were a couple of hundred people here, which is the norm."
Lee believe the culprits may have mingled with the public at the auction before leaving a window open in public toilets, at the side of the premises, for them to sneak in when the business was closed.
A gap in the fence at the side of the property leading from the canal was also discovered and this was just a few feet away from the toilet window.
Lee said: "They have managed to get into the premises without being spotted and they were well away from the CCTV also."
Now faced with a bill for repairs running to around £5,000, Lee said he would like to get the message across the business does not keep large quantities of cash on the premises.
He added: "I don't know what they were expecting to find. It has caused some disruption but it is business as usual for us while the police look into this."
This is the second time in two years that Lee has been targeted by raiders.
In 2017 raiders wielding sledgehammers broke into his Burnley house in broad daylight while his daughter, Lily, who was 14 at the time, was home on her own.
After ransacking the house the culprits made off with a small safe containing a selection of old pound coins.