A JEWELLERS on a crime-hit shopping street was raided by a gang of eight Eastern European men and women.

A gang of six women and two men, posing as customers, stole £25,000 of traditional Asian gold bangles from Riaz Jewellers in Whalley Range, Blackburn, after distracting staff and creating a ‘makeshift screen’ with hats and scarves.

The lone shop assistant was helping one of the men, while the rest covered up a display cabinet so a woman could slide out a tray of expensive jewellery.

She put them into a bag and smuggled out under the group’s clothes.

The man bought some cheaper items then left.

The latest theft comes on the back of police and council chiefs finally agreeing to install CCTV following a rise in similar incidents over the past 18 months.

Shopkeepers have led the way with protests and last week held talks with council leader Kate Hollern and police chief Bob Eastwood.

Following the discussions, the authorities agreed to look into funding for CCTV cameras to increase security for traders, customers and resident.

In the short term, mobile CCTV vans are being dispatched into the burglary hotspots.

The burglary at Riaz around 12.30pm on Monday follows a daring rooftop raid on the same shop in November. Two men were later arrested and charged.

Punjab Jewellers in Randall Street, Larenzo bridal and evening wear shop in Victoria Street, Anisha’s Collection fabric shop and Krystals jewellery shop in Victoria Street have also all been targeted in the last six months.

Neighbourhood Sgt Sue Bushell said: “We are urging both business owners and shoppers to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to police.

“In response to the recent spike in burglaries in the area, we are working with the council to improve CCTV in the area and have set up the ‘Whalley Range Business Forum’ to improve communication between ourselves and the local business owners to encourage everyone to work together to help reduce crime.”

Former councillor and local resident Hussain Akhtar, has organised a neighbourhood committee of local businessmen.

He said Riaz staff were ‘very upset’ and that the extra security measures couldn’t come soon enough.

He said: “This is very sad news, just as everyone is working hard together to bring these incidents to a stop.