A GANG of masked carjackers is being hunted by police after they attacked two lone women in separate attacks in Horwich.

In both terrifying incidents two masked robbers approached the women seconds after they had parked their cars.

The men, who were armed with hammers or other blunt instruments, then ordered the women to get out and hand over their keys.

District nurse Michele Harwood, aged 45, was the first victim.

She had just parked her grey Nissan Qashqai, which she bought 18 months ago, outside her home in Queen Street, Horwich, on Friday, when the carjackers pounced.

The mum was returning home at about 8pm after calling at Iceland on the way back from work.

She said: “I hadn’t even got out of the car and they swerved in the road.

"Two men in balaclavas got out and started running down the road.

"I thought they were going to a house at first and that I would stay in my car.

"I went to turn the engine of my car off and one of them hit my car where the window had been open with a hammer and said 'just get out of the car'.

“I was terrified. They have got my house keys, purse, shopping, everything.

"I have had to get my locks changed. I am a district nurse and can’t work without my car.


"I'm not going to be able to work until I get another car. I feel on edge going out. I don’t want to drive again.”

The robbers were wielding hammers and the man who demanded Ms Harwood’s car had a Bolton accent.

It is thought some children may have seen the men putting on balaclavas while they were parked up near the road before the robbery.

After the attack, the carjackers drove Ms Harwood’s car towards Leicester Avenue.

A third man, who dropped the robbers off before the attack, is thought to have travelled along Richmond Street.

The carjackers struck again on Monday in Haxey Walk, Horwich.

A woman and her young daughter were approached by two men who were brandishing blunt weapons.

The victims had just got out of a white BMW 135 at about 10pm when one of the men demanded the car keys.

Police are linking the robberies and say in both incidents the criminals arrived in a small white or silvery grey car, driven by a third person.

The car then followed the stolen vehicles as they were driven from the scene.

A Haxey Walk resident said: “It is frightening that people will go to such lengths for a car, even when they saw a child was present.

"We will all be looking out for each other but I think it was probably a one-off. It is usually a quiet estate.”

Det Insp Charlotte Cadden, from Bolton North Integrated Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “These robberies are isolated but are being linked. These kind of incidents are very rare in Bolton.

“The victims have been left very distressed and one of the robberies was witnessed by a child.

"People should be aware of their surroundings and anything they see that is suspicious.

"I’d ask people to be vigilant about unusual vehicles parking near to your house and abandoned vehicles.”

Det Insp Cadden said the investigation was ongoing and urged anyone with information to call police on 0161 8565761 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.