A MAJOR search involving the police helicopter was carried out in Bournemouth town centre after an armed robbery at a jewellery shop in Westover Road.

Men on motorbikes raided Franses Jewellers at around midday. Witnesses say one wielded a Samurai sword and threatened members of the public not to intervene.

Bournemouth Echo:

Trains were temporarily stopped this afternoon while police carried out searches following information the men involved may have travelled to Bournemouth railway station.

Three motorcycles believed to be involved were recovered, one at the scene, one in Florence Road and another in Coach House Place. A sword has also been recovered by police.

However, the robbers have not yet been found.

Bournemouth Echo:

Forensics officers were investigating the scene. The shutters of the jewellery shop were partly pulled down, but a display appeared to have been ransacked.

The owners of the shop have declined to speak to the Daily Echo.

A witness said she saw men wearing black clothing and bike helmets make off from the store at speed.

Bournemouth Echo:

"They came running out carrying a satchel and jumped on the mopeds," she said.

"They were wearing helmets with black visors."

She saw white "misty smoke" was pouring out of the shop.

Bournemouth Echo:

"They rode off quickly towards the town centre," she added.

There were no reports of any injuries following the robbery. 

A large number of armed police were outside the McDonald's in Boscombe, but it is understood nobody was arrested.

Detective Inspector Gavin House, of Bournemouth CID, said: “I understand this incident must have caused some concern to members of the public and I would like to reassure them that a thorough investigation is underway to identify and arrest the offenders.

“I am appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident, or who saw the men making off from the premises, to contact police. I am also keen to hear from anyone who may have filmed all or part of the incident on their mobile phone, captured it on dashcam or seen the offenders abandoning the vehicles or discarding items in the relevant areas. 

“This was a fast-moving incident and we would like to thank members of the public for their patience and understanding during the disruption that was caused while the searches were carried out.

"Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team will be carrying out patrols in the area and can be approached with any concerns."

Contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55190038960.