A MASKED man stole thousands of pounds after wielding a sledgehammer at a cash-in-transit delivery driver.

The thief and his accomplice lay in wait at the Asda superstore on Priestners Way in Leigh in a silver Renault Laguna Estate that had been fitted with false plates. 

When the Loomis van pulled onto the car park to deliver cash, the masked man got out of the car and ran towards the driver wielding a large sledgehammer at about 9am on Friday, May 30.

He demanded the cash box from the driver who, fearing he would be attacked, threw the box on the floor.

The thief, who is described as being white, of a slim build, in his mid to late 20s and wearing a woollen balaclava, woollen gloves and a khaki green Parka-style jacket, picked up the box and he and his accomplice drove off.

Police have released CCTV images of the masked man as he committed the robbery and are appealing to anyone with information to come forward.

Det Con Alison Wallwork said: "The offender had armed himself with a very dangerous weapon with one intent - to cause as much intimidation and fear as possible in order to get his hands on a very substantial amount of cash.

"Thankfully there were no physical injuries but as the images show, there were members of the public shopping at the time and both they and the delivery driver were extremely shocked.

"We need to find the offender, his accomplice and the money they stole and send a message that this sort of violent robbery will not be tolerated.

“Security guards and cash-in-transit delivery drivers do not deserve to be targeted in this way. It is not an occupational hazard and those responsible will face a long stint in prison.”

The men got away along Atherleigh Way, Kirkhall Lane and onto Furnival Street where the car was abandoned in an alleyway and set on fire.

Police believe the men then got into a second car, possible a grey or silver-coloured Peugeot 206 displaying the partial registration number MX54 which is also believed to be a false plate.

This second getaway car then drove up Leigh Road towards Howe Bridge and remains outstanding.

Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 7292 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.