BURGLARS used an angle grinder to cut locks and smashed windows with a concrete block in an early morning raid on one of Romsey’s best known shops.

Greg Davies, director of department store Bradbeers, said a gang behind a break-in at the Bell Street business on Monday were thwarted by security measures within minutes.

But they still made off with a so far unknown quantity of perfume products.

“It is just the boldness of these thieves coming at 5.20am when there could be someone around and it just shows the determination of these people,” Mr Davies said.

Mr Davies said the gang were caught on CCTV as they broke in and were forced to flee in less than three minutes because security systems worked well.

He explained: “We have gates outside the store and these people used an angle grinder to open the locks and then used a concrete block to smash the windows.

“When they smashed the first window it set the alarm off which releases a cloudy mist, which means you cannot see your hand in front of your face, but it doesn’t damage the stock.

“After they jumped in within about 20 seconds they came out, because they couldn’t see anything, so they went around the outside of the building, smashed two more windows and took some perfume displays from the window.

“The police got here in six minutes, which is very good, but it just goes to show even the police not being far away still does not prevent this from happening.”

Hampshire police confirmed an investigation has been launched to find the criminals.

Mayor of Romsey, Cllr Janet Burnage, said news of the break-in at a time when firms were already struggling was “saddening”, while Cllr Sandra Gidley, who represents Romsey Abbey on Test Valley Borough Council, slammed the gang for targeting the business.

She said: “It must be a very hard time for businesses at the moment and it does not help anybody when this happens, so this is really disappointing.

“I think a lot of people will be quite shocked, because this is not something that happens every day in Romsey.”

Police said a Land Rover Discovery was spotted parked at the rear of the store between the public toilets and the back of Boots the chemist.

A police appeal said: “Did you see the vehicle in this area around this time? Perhaps you captured it on Dash Cam, or have mobile phone footage? “Did you capture the vehicle registration number, or perhaps you can describe the occupants?”

A police spokesperson added: “This incident is under investigation and our enquiries remain ongoing.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting 44210019533.