FOUR masked men armed with a shotgun stole £5,000 in a terrifying armed robbery at a busy Bolton bingo hall.

Mecca Bingo in Breightmet Fold Lane, Breightmet, was packed with players when the gang burst in at about 7.10pm last night.

Security at the bingo hall saw the men approaching and closed the shutters, but the gang still managed to force their way through the front door.

Once inside, the men, who were armed with a machete, a hammer and a shotgun, stole about £5,000 from cash drawers before fleeing in a stolen blue Volvo estate car.

The car was later found abandoned in nearby Fosters Lane and is now being examined by police forensic experts.

Sgt Kevin Day said: “The bingo hall was open for business at the time and was full of people enjoying the games.

“Luckily nobody was badly hurt, but that should not undermine the fact that these men came heavily armed and capable of causing serious injury.

“The men knew what they were doing - they wasted no time in going straight to the cash drawers to ensure a quick getaway and used a stolen car, which was soon abandoned after the crime.”

Anyone with information can call police on 0161 8565795 or 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.