Three men have carried out an armed robbery at a bank.
A branch of the TSB in Blackhills Road in Horden was targeted by the gang, who were carrying what are thought to be crowbars and a wooden stick at around 10.45am today.
Two women members of staff were injured during the incident and treated for minor injuries by ambulance crews at the scene.
Police say two other women, members of the public, were also injured but did not need treatment.
A car thought to be linked to the incident has since been discovered burnt out on the Cotsford Park Estate area in the village.
Residents have said they saw three men wearing balaclavas running away from the vehicle and it is thought they got into another car.
Inspector Steve Thubron, of Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This is clearly a very shocking incident and we are in the very early stages of the investigation.
“I am keen to hear from anyone who knows the identity of these individuals or anyone with information about the incident.
“I am also keen to hear from anyone who may have noticed any suspicious vehicles in the area at the time, possibly a blue and a silver saloon car.
“We have officers from our response teams, CID and air support currently seeking those involved so people can expect to see a lot of police activity in Horden throughout the day.
“Thankfully incidents of this nature are rare in our force area and the public can rest assured we are doing all we can to find those responsible.”
Deborah Kennedy, 34, who lives with husband Maurice, 52, and her daughter Autumn Coverdale, eight, had been out on a driving lesson when the robbery happened.
The car was abandoned and caught light at the back of her home, damaging their newly installed decking and other areas of their back garden.
She said: “I looks like they planned to dump the car there.
“It could have been much worse if it had been around the front.
“At least no one was hurt.
“I just hope they find them.”
A man who lives near the spot where the car was found said: “My mam rang me and sent there was a lot of police heading down to the estate.
“The car came along the footpath at the back of the estate from the bus stop and crashed and they the guys got out and went through the alleyway.
“The car exploded, it exploded a few times.
“I think they might have set it on fire on purpose.”
A spokesperson for TSB said: “We can confirm that there was an incident at our branch in Horden. “The police arrived at the scene very quickly and we are working closely with them as the investigation continues.
“We are grateful for their support and that of the public.”
Anyone with information should contact Durham Constabulary on 101 and quote incident 121 of 21/09 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.