ARMED robbers brought terror to one of Leeds’s main commuter routes with a series of car-jackings today.
A gang of men in balaclavas – and reportedly armed with weapons including an axe and an iron bar – threatened several motorists on Kirkstall Road, at the junction with Kirkstall Lane, shortly after 9am.
It came after the same gang escaped empty-handed following an attempted robbery at a jewellers in Harrogate.
After arriving in Kirkstall the gang are thought to have hijacked a Vauxhall Corsa near Kirkstall Abbey, which they then abandoned before stealing a van.
They then got out of that vehicle and threatened several more drivers before finally dragging a man out of another Corsa and escaping.
One eyewitness tweeted: “I just felt like I was on [computer game] Grand Theft Auto. Not everyday do you see 4 guys jump out of a van and drag someone out their car to then drive off.”
The incidents in Leeds happened after three men wearing balaclavas smashed their way into A Fattorini The Jeweller on Parliament Street in Harrogate at about 8.35am.
A member of staff sounded the shop’s alarm and the men left the scene empty-handed in a grey van.
Police now want to hear from anyone who may have mobile phone footage of the robbery in Harrogate or the car thefts in Leeds.
Officers in Leeds said they were investigating two car-jackings and three other attempted thefts.
Det Insp Ian Lawrence, of Leeds District CID, said: “Wide-ranging enquiries to trace these offenders are ongoing at the moment and we are liaising with other police forces. There are a number of scenes in place where the offenders took vehicles or attempted to take vehicles from their owners.
“These incidents will have been seen by a number of people and I would appeal for anyone who witnessed any of these events to contact us.”
Det Insp Nichola Holden, of Harrogate CID, said: “Understandably, the public will be concerned by the chain of events on Thursday morning, however I would like to reassure people that we are doing everything we can to locate the suspects as soon as possible.
“If you have any information that can help to identify the suspects please call the police or Crimestoppers. It is important that if you have any footage or images of any of the incidents that have taken place you share it with us ”
Surrounding roads in Kirkstall were closed while police investigated, with reports of traffic congestion.
Anyone with information should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.