AN armed gang is believed to be responsible for a one-night crime spree in Horwich.

The group of about six men are thought to have carried out three armed robberies in and around Victoria Road and Pennine Road in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Police say armed street robberies are rare in Horwich — there were only 10 during the whole of last year.

Now there have been three on the first day of 2013, involving four victims, and police are appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information to contact them. In each case, the gang engaged their victims in conversation by asking for a cigarette before threatening them with knives and robbing them.

The first incident happened between 2.15am and 2.30am, when a group of five or six men threatened three teenagers with a knife and stole a 14-yearold’s wallet.

A short time later, between 3.15am and 4am, five men threatened two 18- year-olds with a knife and took a mobile phone and cash.

It happened in Victoria Road, near the junction with Stocks Park Drive.

Then four men approached a 15-year-old at the junction of Victoria Road and Chorley New Road between 4am and 4.10am and stole a bag and coat.

The robbers are white, aged 18 to 22, and were wearing dark clothes with their hoods up. They spoke with local accents.

PCSO Steve Best said: “This type of personal robbery is very rare in Horwich, with only 10 reported in the whole of 2012.

“They asked the victims for a cigarette and these decent people said yes and suffered as a consequence.

“This was not a happy way to start the New Year for them. It could be that the offenders are from another area of Bolton and had been to a party and brought their crime with them.

“We are sure people will be talking about this and urge anyone with any information to contact us.”

In another incident, two men approached a woman in Rock Street, Horwich, between 2.10pm and 2.20pm on New Year’s Eve, and stole a mobile phone before running off.

Police are investigating whether this attack is linked to the other robberies.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.