A PETROL station is believed to have been ram raided in the middle of the night, leaving the shop destroyed.

Sainsbury’s petrol station in Cricketers Way, Westhoughton, was heavily damaged in a suspected ram raid in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It is understood that a tractor was used to drive into the shop and destroy the wall. The tractor was abandoned at the scene.

It is also understood that there were no monetary or stock losses, only material damage done to the shop.

Residents were shocked as they arrived for petrol, only to be turned away at the police cordons.

But one local, Andrew Scaldwell, said that crime is a big concern in the town. He said: "Nothing surprises me anymore in Westhoughton, it's a lawless society.

"There is no police in Westhoughton anymore and I have had to put cameras on the front of my house to make sure my car is safe.

"It is just recognised in the town that there is no deterrent, it's a case of where's next?"

Westhoughton councillor Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon expressed concerns that the town has now seen a number of ram raids on local shops before, including the main Sainsbury's store across the road from the petrol station.

Cllr Eckersley-Fallon said: “It is just upsetting that someone has done that to the petrol station. The Sainsbury’s store has been done a few times in the same way.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “There was an incident at our Westhoughton petrol station and we’re supporting the police with their investigation.

"We’re working to re-open as quickly as possible and are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Greater Manchester Police remained at the scene throughout Tuesday morning and have been contacted for comment.