ARMED raiders robbed a security guard before using their car and a house to smash open a cash box.
Two masked-raiders struck just after 11am outside the HSBC bank in Hillview Road, Astley Bridge, using a crowbar to attack a G4S security guard who was holding the cash box on his way into the bank to make a delivery.
The two men then fled the scene in a dark-coloured vehicle - thought to be a black Skoda - but stopped in nearby Old Road when one of them got out of the car.
It is thought he held the cash box next to a wall and the other man repeatedly reversed the car into it in an attempt to smash it open.
Shortly after the raid it was reported that a black car had crashed into a skip near Chorley Old Road and exploded into flames.
Police said the raiders had stolen only a small amount of money.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "We were called to Old Road at 11.15am after reports of a car continually reversing into a wall.
"This followed an armed robbery outside the HSBC bank in which a security driver received a cut to his arm."
The driver was checked over by paramedics but was not seriously hurt.
One eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: "I was sitting in my car with my friend when we saw this car do a a u-turn really aggressively and reverse straight into this house.
"Then it did it again, like three times.
"One of the men got out - he was short and in a black tracksuit.
"He was shouting at the driver to keep reversing into the wall, and he was holding a black and yellow bag.
"Then he got back in the car and they drove off really fast."
A piece of the getaway car was found in Old Road and the police helicopter was launched to hunt for the robbers.
Witnesses reported seeing a black car crash into a skip in Back Chorley Old Road South at about 11.20am.
Michael Rigg, who lives in Chorley Old Road, said: "My neighbour heard the car crash into the skip and I saw this billowing black smoke in the air.
"It definitely smashed into it - it has moved the whole skip and burnt my neighbour's fence down."
Steve Roberts works in Chorley Old Road and ran up to see the scene.
He said: "It seems a real coincidence that a black car was found on fire just after a similar vehicle was involved in the armed robbery."