ARMED thieves raided cigarettes from a Uttoxeter superstore, abandoned and torched their getaway car on a private drive, then crashed a stolen car while fleeing the scene.
Detectives are appealing for witnesses of the break-in, which happened at around 8.25pm on Sunday when offenders forced their way into Tesco in Town Meadows Way.
The offenders were believed to be carrying crowbars or similar items.
They stole a large quantity of cigarettes from the kiosk at Tesco before leaving the store in a silver Ford Focus.
Although there were staff in the store at the time, no one was injured.
The Focus was abandoned a short while later on a private driveway, on Bypass Road, just off the A50 island near the Racecourse pub and set alight.
The offenders then transferred to a silver Audi, which was later involved in a collision in Bradley Corner, near Hulland Ward, Ashbourne.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “The suspects made off.
“Colleagues from Derbyshire Constabulary’s Dog Support Unit and Air Support Unit assisted patrols with an area search but no one was located.
“Inquiries established the Audi was a stolen vehicle on false registration plates.
“The suspects are described as four men and possibly one woman with long hair.
“They all wore dark clothing, apart from one who wore a high-vis jacket and they all had their faces covered.
“It’s believed they carried crow bars or similar items.”
Judy Smith, of Bypass Road, on whose drive the Ford Focus was set alight, said: “On returning from a lovely day out on Sunday, we came across flashing lights on our driveway.
“There were police and a fire engine.
“The fire service were putting out the fire of a burnt-out car that had been dumped after a robbery at Tesco.
“We had to sit and wait until the fire engine had moved to be able to get past.
“The next day the remains of the car had been removed, leaving a blackened patch on the drive way.
“I was glad to hear that there had been no injuries to the staff at Tesco but at the same time I was shocked.
“Someone could easily have been injured at Tesco or at the scene of the fire with petrol being on fire.”
A spokesman for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The service was alerted to a car on fire at 8.40pm on Sunday.
“One crew from Uttoxeter Community Fire Station attended the incident which occurred on the A518, just off the A50.
“Firefighters used two breathing apparatus and two hose reel jets in order to extinguish the flames.
“They left the scene at 9.33pm.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident in Uttoxeter, or the car collision in Ashbourne, or saw any suspicious activity on Sunday night, is asked to contact DC Ian Fitzgerald at Staffordshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 724 of Sunday, October 6.
Alternatively, they can contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
At the time of going to press, no one from Tesco Uttoxeter was available for comment.