ARMED robbers threatened bank staff before fleeing with bags full of cash in an afternoon raid.
Three men wearing balaclavas and carrying a gun and a crowbar walked into HSBC on Northgate in Almondbury at about 3.30pm yesterday.
They ordered staff to put cash in three hold-alls before running off.
A car – thought to be their getaway vehicle – was later found burned out in Almondbury cemetery.
A girl who was outside the bank at the time saw the drama unfold.
The teenager, who did not want to be named, said: “We were waiting outside and we heard some shouting from inside the bank.
“They were saying ‘put the money in there’.
“Then they ran out. One had a gun and one had a crowbar and they were wearing balaclavas. They ran off round the corner.
“There were three of them and they all had bags.”
Vinod Jalota, who runs a newsagents on the opposite side of Northgate, was serving school children when the incident happened.
He said: “School finished at 3.20pm so I was obviously concentrating on the kids.
“At about 3.35pm some kid came in saying, ‘Ring the police, someone has robbed the bank’.
“They say all sorts of things, so I didn’t believe him and carried on.
“Then I saw the police cars come screeching up and armed police getting out. The helicopter was out as well.”
Paramedics were sent to the scene, but no-one was hurt in the incident.
An HSBC spokesman said: “We can confirm there were staff and customers in the bank at the time. They were shaken but no-one was injured.
“The matter is being investigated by police.”
Peter Read, who lives near Almondbury cemetery, said the getaway car had probably been driven up to the cemetery via Wormald Street.
He said: “There was a car found completely burned out at the cemetery about five minutes after the bank was robbed.
“It would be a massive coincidence if the two things weren’t connected.”
The car, possibly a Vauxhall Astra, was totally destroyed by fire. Its burned-out shell, next to a fence that runs alongside Penny Spring Wood, was being guarded by a police community support officer late yesterday afternoon.
A dog walker said part of the fence had been ripped down at some point yesterday – indicating the robbers had possibly escaped through the woods.
Police taped off the bank and were still looking for the gang yesterday evening.
A spokeswoman said they were investigating the possibility the burned-out car was connected to the robbery.
She added: “We responded to reports of an armed robbery on Northgate in Almondbury at about 3.30pm. Three men entered the premises and threatened staff before making off from the scene.”
Inquiries are continuing. Anyone with information should call police on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.