ROBBERS armed with a ‘Samurai sword’ raided a jewellery shop in Bournemouth town centre in broad daylight.

Terrified passers-by witnessed four men wearing black clothing and bike helmets rob Franses Jewellers in Westover Road yesterday afternoon. Two of the men reportedly stayed outside the store with the weapon, threatening people not to intervene, while the other two robbers ransacked the shop.

The men then made off on two mopeds and a motorbike, around five minutes before the arrival of police.

A major search involving the police helicopter took place across the town centre, moving onto the Springbourne and Boscombe areas. A large number of armed officers were outside the McDonald’s in Boscombe, but it is understood nobody was arrested and the search for the offenders continued.

Meanwhile, forensics officers were called to the jewellery shop to carry out investigations of the scene.

Karen Watten, from Moordown, was shopping along Westover Road when she witnessed the robbery take place.

“It all happened so quickly, it was such a shock,” the 61-year-old said.

“I was walking towards Franses when four guys just appeared with a Samurai sword, waving it above their heads.

“Two of the men were outside the jewellers threatening people and another two ran into the store. They cleared the window display and were putting the jewellery into a great big black bag. The two outside were telling them what to take. A load of smoke then started filling the store.

“A doorman was trying to talk to the guy with the sword and distract him. All the shutters started going down on Westover Road. Police arrived around five minutes after the men had left.

“All the men were dressed in black and had their faces covered. They looked young, in their early 20s. They went off on mopeds. The whole incident was quite frightening.”

A spokesperson from Dorset Police said yesterday: “At 12.01pm, Dorset Police received a report of a robbery at Franses Jewellers in Westover Road, Bournemouth involving men on two mopeds and a motorcycle.

“Two of the vehicles involved have been recovered and searches are ongoing to locate the offenders and the third vehicle.”

Jewellery shop staff were threatened in armed raid just over two years ago

IN MARCH last year, a pair of thugs were given lengthy jail sentences after shopkeepers at Franses Jewellers were held by the throat in an armed raid at the store.

Mustafa Ali, then 25, was told he will serve at least 16 years in prison after the attack, while Michael Adiat, then 22, will serve a minimum of 12 years.

The defendants went into the store on January 31 2017 having phoned in advance requesting to look at expensive watches.

They were taken into a back room where they were shown watches worth as much as £50,000. But after a few minutes Adiat took out an imitation handgun and snatched two victims by the throat while Ali began smashing the reinforced glass of nearby cabinets with a lump hammer.

Franses was the fourth jewellery store struck by Ali over a month-long spree, all following a similar pattern. He had pistol-whipped a shop assistant at Baker Brothers Diamonds in Bedford on December 28 2016, causing her to have a heart attack.