THREE masked raiders broke into a family's home and threatened a couple with knives while their children slept upstairs.

Police have launched a major investigation after the raid in Kingsway, Lower Darwen.

The thugs made off with property including jewellery, mobile phones, cash and the couple's car, a blue MG ZR, which was later recovered near to the house.

Officers said the three men entered the house at 9.55pm last night and threatened a 33-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman with knives.

Police said the couple's children sleeping upstairs throughout the ordeal.

Detective Sergeant Mick Cross said: "This was very frightening for the occupants who have been left upset and traumatised by the ordeal.

"It is extremely rare for such an incident to occur in the area and we are treating this offence very seriously."

A forensic investigation has been carried out as well as door-to-door inquiries.

The raiders are described as white.

One was aged in his late 20s and was wearing dark clothing and a black balaclava.

The second was wearing dark clothing and was believed to have been wearing a blue hockey mask.

The third was wearing dark clothing and a black jacket.

Anyone with information should call police on 0845 1 25 35 45 quoting log reference number 341eq/080408 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.