The owner of a clothes store has praised quick-thinking residents who jumped into action after her shop was ram-raided.

Now Christine Crowson has placed a sign in the window of her Burley-in-Wharfedale store thanking them,

after thieves ransacked her business.

The Mulberry Bush clothes store on Station Road was attacked at 8.10pm last Friday when thieves made off with the store's garments.

Some of the residents, who were attending a candelit supper in the nearby Burley Parish Rooms, alleged they were threatened by a man in a balaclava when they went outside to investigate.

More than 50 members of the community were helping to raise money for the Children's Society and arrived for the function to discover a red Vauxhall Nova blocking the entrance to the building.

One of the residents, who did not want to be named, said: "We called the police when we saw the car because we thought it was a fire hazard blocking the exit. One gentleman was in a wheelchair and we couldn't get it past the car.

"We had been listening out for the police and we heard some cars outside and thought it might be them. When I got outside I saw that the red car's door was open two inches, it had been closed before, and a man wearing a balaclava was sat inside.

"I was very scared and we called the police again. Some of the men took down the registration number of the red car and the number of a high performance blue car across the road, which had its boot open."

A man attending the supper said: "I went outside to investigate with my two friends and we did not see the red car but we saw the Suburu. We were mesmerised by what was going on.

"From inside the car a man appeared wearing a balaclava. It was the first time we realised it was serious.

"There were a lot of old people inside so we went back in and locked the doors and we called the police again and gave them the number of the Suburu.

"When the police came they said they had traced them using the police helicopter. We went back inside and carried on with the supper and the quiz."

The annual event organised by St Mary's Parish Church, Burley, raised £350 for the Children's Society.

Mrs Crowson has thanked the residents for their swift action in taking down the registration numbers and calling the police.

"There were a lot of people about in the village and they did try to assist. They had seen three men who had got into the shop through the front door," she said.

"I have put a notice in the window to thank everybody who came out to assist, I am very grateful there is so much community spirit here.

"When my daughter came to see what had happened a young couple next door kindly offered to look after my granddaughter for her. The people in Burley have been very nice.

"We are not open at the moment because we have no stock, they took everything that was on the rails.

"We buy our stock every six months from abroad. The police have managed to recover some things but I do not know what condition they are in yet."

A police spokesman said: "A stolen red Vauxhall Nova and blue Suburu estate car were used in a burglary at the shop. An amount of clothing was stolen.

"The Nova had been used to drive into the shop and the Suburu had been loaded up with clothing. Both cars have been recovered and are being examined."

Keighley police are appealing for any witnesses to the incidents to contact them on 01535 617083.

l A 22-year-old Bradford man has been charged with three thefts from motor vehicles, theft of a motor vehicle and burglary.