Masked raiders used a power saw to slice open the doorlock of Oxenhope’s Co-op store then ransacked its cigarette display during a burglary.

West Yorkshire police believe two men forced the door of the Station Road mini-market, snatched cigarettes and tobacco then sped away in a black Ford Mondeo estate car at 1am yesterday.

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 wearing balaclavas.

A staff member at the store in Station Road yesterday 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 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.

“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.

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

A spokesman for The Co-operative, Food and Retail said they remained committed to serving the community, adding: “Intruders broke into our store on Station Road, Oxenhope, at around 1am on Thursday, April 24, 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.”

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 555111.