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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Police patrol held at gunpoint
chester map
Two police officers have been handcuffed at gunpoint by a gang of men who then escaped in their police patrol car.

The constables were carrying out a routine "stop-check" on a Ford Mondeo car at Littleton near Chester when the incident happened.

The 33-year-old woman constable and her male colleague, 40, were forced to lie on the ground by the armed men during the half-hour ordeal on Thursday.

Detective Chief Inspector John Armstrong , who is leading the hunt for the men, said his officers had gone through a "horrific ordeal".

'Dedicated criminals'

The officers were confronted at 2310 BST when the two officers spotted a silver Ford Mondeo parked off Hare Lane, Littleton.

The woman constable stayed in the patrol car to run a check on the Mondeo as her colleague went to question the men.

He was returning to the police car when guns were placed against both their heads.

The gang then smashed their police radios before forcing the officers to their knees then made them walk down a lane where they were handcuffed.

DCI Armstrong said it was likely his "heroic" officers had "come across a team of dedicated criminals".

Cheshire Police logo
Detectives are appealing for information
A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said the officers "absolutely petrified" by the incident.

The police car was found abandoned in Brook Street, Chester, following the incident at 2346 BST on Thursday.

Police believe the three men had also tried to break into cars nearby and officers are carrying out a thorough search of the area.

The driver of the Ford Mondeo is described as 35-40 years old, six feet tall with short cropped or shaven hair and spoke with a Liverpool accent.

One of the other passengers was described as 30-35 years old, with short dark hair and six feet tall. He spoke with an Irish accent.

The third man was described as black, 5 ft 6 in tall and wearing dark clothes.

Police have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

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