DETECTIVES are probing links between two smash-and-grab robberies on Bolton banks and a ram raid on a Bury bank.

The latest robbery on Friday, when men smashed a 6ft by 4ft hole in the wall of the Halifax bank in Unsworth with an off-road vehicle, bears the hallmarks of two similar raids in Bolton.

Masked robbers armed with a machete and a baseball bat used a pick-up truck to ram their way into the Royal Bank of Scotland in High Street, Little Lever, on February 11.

After they failed to make a hole in the wall they threatened customers with the machete before being let behind the counter to take around £5,000 in cash from tills.

Detectives believe the same gang was responsible for a raid on the Royal Bank of Scotland in Wigan Road, Deane, 11 days later.

A gang of three men, all wearing balaclavas, drove a builder's van into the wall of the bank before threatening staff with baseball bats and machetes and making off with a substantial amount. A £5,000 reward was been offered for anyone with information.

The latest raid saw staff flee in terror when a silver Mitsubishi Shogun was driven into the wall of the Halifax Bank in Randale Drive, Uns-worth, at 5pm on Friday.

The raiders, one thought to be armed with a crowbar, burst into the bank through the hole and rifled two till points.

They grabbed a quantity of bank notes before speeding off in a getaway car, and switching to another vehicle a short time later.

Detectives believe the trio then got into a third car, a dark-coloured Toyota Celica, which was driven along Bury New Road towards Prestwich.

Officers are keen to speak to anyone who witnessed the robbery or the subsequent car changes.

Anyone with information is asked to police on 0161 872 5050 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.