Masked raiders used a power saw to slice open the door lock of Oxenhope’s Co-op store then ransacked its cigarette display during a 1am burglary on Thursday morning.

West Yorks police believe two men forced open the door of the Station Road mini-market after cutting the lock with the saw, snatched cigarettes and tobacco then sped away in a black Mondeo estate car.

The thieves sped off towards the Station Road and Keighley Road roundabout, then out of the village along Moorhouse Lane towards Marsh.

It was reported that the men had been seen had been wearing balaclavas.

A staff member at the store in Station Road this morning confirmed that there had been a burglary, but was unable to give further details.

The Oxenhope shop was robbed last December on a Saturday evening when staff were menaced by two men wearing balaclavas and armed with hammers.

The same evening the gang robbed the Co-op in Greenside Lane, Cullingworth, two shops in Halifax, and two petrol stations in Bradford.

Last night Oxenhope parish vice chairman Tony Maw condemned those behind this latest raid and called for everyone in rural areas to be alert to travelling crooks.

“It’s despicable when this sort of thing happens and it’s quite dispiriting for the community,” Mr Maw said.

“Our Co-op is very much valued these days as a lot of little local shops have disappeared.

“And since it was revamped a couple of years ago it’s got even better and is used far more.

“It employs local people and it’s become a big resource for the village - something we certainly wouldn’t want to lose,” Mr Maw said.

“All rural communities should be vigilant about this sort of criminal threat,” he added.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative, Food and Retail said they remained committed to serving the local community.

Speaking about the burglary he added: “Intruders broke into our store on Station Road, Oxenhope, at around 1am on Thursday, 24 April, and stole a quantity of cigarettes.

“The store was closed at the time, but CCTV footage has been given to the police, who are investigating.

“As with any incident such as this, we would appeal for anyone with information to come forward.”

West Yorkshire Police are appealing for anyone with information on either the burglary or the suspect vehicle to contact them on 101 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 55511.