Armed raiders struck at an Ilkley jewellers at today.
Four masked men dressed in blue overalls drove onto the pavement and smashed the window at Lister Horsfall, Brook Street at about 1.40pm.
The robbers sped off in a silver Honda Civic car, down Brook Street and Railway Road, narrowly missing pedestrians.
The getaway car was abandoned and set alight on Hampshire Close, Ilkley.
One eyewitnesses, who saw the attack from her car nearby and immediately called police from her mobile phone, said: “It really shook me up. I thought ‘why are they parked on the pavement?’ and then they all came out.
"They were wearing blue jumpsuits and they had black coverings over their heads."
A man who was passing by claimed one of the men walked towards an approaching policewoman, holding up what looked like an axe, before heading back to the getaway car.
“He walked at her, it looked like an axe he had, and he raised it. Nobody should tackle them,” he said.
Another witness, who did not want to be named, said: “They just sped off down the pavement, they could have killed somebody.”
Lister Horsfall’s managing director Nicholas Horsfall praised brave staff who stopped the robbers escaping with a big haul.
Mr Horsfall said the raiders had only managed to escape with a small amount of property because of the actions of quick-thinking staff.
Speaking on his way to the shop Mr Horsfall said: “I don’t think they managed to get away with a lot. The quick thinking of the staff managed to avert a major loss. The shutters went down, the blinds went down and they were stripping the stock from behind the window to stop it being taken,” he said.
Mr Horsfall added: “We have systems in place to try to slow them down. I don’t think it is as bad a loss as it could have been.”
But he said he was surprised the robbers had managed to break through the toughened glass which was “as bandit proof as possible".
He said the three or four staff on duty were uninjured but were shaken by the latest incident.
He added: “It is really frustrating that this is the world that we are living in and there is nothing you can do to deter them.”
It is the third time in recent years the jewellers has been hit by armed robbers: previously being raided in June 2012 and September 2011.
In September last year a masked robber was jailed for seven and a half years for a terrifying daylight sledgehammer raid on the jeweller's shop on June 6, 2012.
Darren Pallas was one of a gang wearing black balaclava masks who tried to smash their way into Rolex watch specialist.
Pallas, 33, of Cross Green, Leeds, had denied attempted robbery but was convicted by a jury at Bradford Crown Court.
The gang smashed their way in with sledgehammers and got away with thousands of pounds of watches and jewellery.
They smashed holes in the reinforced glass in the shop door and display window but fled in a stolen BMW with false registration plates after staff activated the security shutters.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police asked for anyone who saw something suspicious before or after the incident to contact the police on the non-emergency number 101.