A MASKED gang hand-cuffed a 59-year-old security guard to a radiator before escaping with £100,000 worth of computer equipment from an Altham firm.

Three men wearing balaclavas threatened the terrified guard with a crowbar and forced him to key in an access code to enter Clever-boxes in Metcalf Drive.

Once inside the building they smashed open the warehouse door and ransacked the area.

They made off with dozens of laptops, personal and tablet computers and printers.

The security guard used his foot to grab a nearby table where the gang had left his mobile phone and then alerted police.

He was still bound to the radiator when the emergency services arrived and was cut free by a firefighter.

Paramedics took him to Royal Blackburn Hospital where he was treated for shock. He remained in hospital yesterday.

DI Claire Holbrook, from Blackburn CID, said: “The security officer has been terribly shocked by this incident.

“However he is recovering well in hospital and was not injured during the attack.

“This is an extremely callous attack on an individual who was simply going about his job.

“A great deal of computer equipment has been stolen and the Lancashire police will be keenly following all leads and inquiries.”

Detectives are examining CCTC footage which shows the gang leading the guard into the canteen with the crowbar.

Vernon Yerkess, owner of Cleverboxes, said it was the second time the Altham business had been raided in four months and nine times since 2005 when the business was based in Clayton-le-Moors.

He said: "I'm using to people doing this to the company, but not to what they did to that poor old chap.

“I wasn’t surprised because we’ve been hit eight times before, which is why we brought in the CCTV, alarm and the security firm.

“I was furious when the security firm told me about it, not just about the cost to the company but to the security guard Frank.

“What they did to him is absolutely outrageous. He was very brave.

“They say it’s part of the job, but being grabbed by a gang and tied up while the place is ransacked isn’t what the job should be about.

“When I spoke to him on Friday night, he was very, very upset.

“But he was more bothered about what had happened to the company than what they did to him.

“God knows how that would affect someone, he might not even return to work.

Mr Yerkess is now waiting to hear from his insurance company but fears his business may collapse if his company does not cover the loss.

He said: "They’ve absolutely ransacked the warehouse, they tore through boxes and took everything they could.

“I’m really worried that the company might not be able to carry on after this.

“If the insurance company won’t pay then we’ve got a £100,000 bill to pay and that sort of money doesn’t come easily.

“We might be uninsurable now, and being a computer company, without insurance we can’t carry on trading.

“We aren’t scared though, I’m a local guy running a local company and we will keep going."

Red Rose Security Services, based in Clayton-le-Moors, would not comment last night.