ARMED raiders robbed a security guard before using their car and a house to smash open a cash box.

Two masked-raiders struck just after 11am outside the HSBC bank in Hillview Road, Astley Bridge, using a crowbar to attack a G4S security guard who was holding the cash box on his way into the bank to make a delivery.

The two men then fled the scene in a dark-coloured vehicle - thought to be a black Skoda - but stopped in nearby Old Road when one of them got out of the car.

It is thought he held the cash box next to a wall and the other man repeatedly reversed the car into it in an attempt to smash it open.

Shortly after the raid it was reported that a black car had crashed into a skip near Chorley Old Road and exploded into flames.

Police said the raiders had stolen only a small amount of money.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "We were called to Old Road at 11.15am after reports of a car continually reversing into a wall.

"This followed an armed robbery outside the HSBC bank in which a security driver received a cut to his arm."

The driver was checked over by paramedics but was not seriously hurt.

One eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: "I was sitting in my car with my friend when we saw this car do a a u-turn really aggressively and reverse straight into this house.

"Then it did it again, like three times.

"One of the men got out - he was short and in a black tracksuit.

"He was shouting at the driver to keep reversing into the wall, and he was holding a black and yellow bag.

"Then he got back in the car and they drove off really fast."

A piece of the getaway car was found in Old Road and the police helicopter was launched to hunt for the robbers.

Witnesses reported seeing a black car crash into a skip in Back Chorley Old Road South at about 11.20am.

Michael Rigg, who lives in Chorley Old Road, said: "My neighbour heard the car crash into the skip and I saw this billowing black smoke in the air.

"It definitely smashed into it - it has moved the whole skip and burnt my neighbour's fence down."

Steve Roberts works in Chorley Old Road and ran up to see the scene.

He said: "It seems a real coincidence that a black car was found on fire just after a similar vehicle was involved in the armed robbery."

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