A SHOP front was destroyed after a lorry was deliberately driven into the building three times.
Police were called by terrified neighbours after they heard the vehicle crashing into Premier Sunbeds on Poolstock Lane, Poolstock, on Sunday morning.
A huge hunt has now been launched for the driver, who fled the scene and abandoned the lorry – a yellow Leyland DAF flat bed with a crane on the rear – nearby.
The building was declared unsafe after sustaining a substantial amount of damage, but no-one was injured.
Nothing was stolen in the attack and detectives are now looking at claims that the firm was the victim of a ‘turf war’ vendetta with a business rival.
A neighbour, a young father-of-two, who asked not to be named, was woken when he heard the sound of the massive impact.
He looked out of his bedroom window to see the lorry backing diagonally across the road to smash through the front of the premises.
He initially feared his two young sons, aged four and seven, may be injured if his own house wall gave way.
He said: “The kids were screaming and screaming, they were scared to death and who can blame them?
“I told my wife to take them back into their bedroom at the back of the house as I pulled some clothes on. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“At first I thought it was a ram raid.
“But then the truck pulled back into the road and then came back smashing into it again and back again and our whole house was shaking and felt like it was coming down as well.
“I am moving out of here now, it just doesn’t feel safe.
“Everybody is talking about it and everybody has a theory about why.
“But it was no accident, that’s for sure.”
Another neighbour was in the bathroom having just got out of bed when the truck made its first attack.
The young mum, who asked not to be identified, said: “I thought it was an articulated truck which had turned over because we have had that happen here before and I known what that sounds like.
“But when I looked out of the front bedroom window to see what it was I saw this truck driving into Premier.
“It went back and forward a number of times, three at least and the noise was so loud it was shattering.
“Then the engine made a great roar and it shot off up the road like a bat out of hell.”
The landlord of the nearby Bold Hotel pub was also woken from his sleep by the impact.
He watched, amazed, as the vehicle moved back and forth to demolish the building.
He said: “When I heard the bang I thought there had been a crash.
“But then it happened again and again and nobody is that bad a driver, are they?”
The owner of Henry’s Newsagents was at the rear of the shop when the stolen truck struck.
He added: “I couldn’t see the driver but the way it happened you knew straight away that this wasn’t any accident and whoever was in that cab knew exactly what they were doing.
“It is a good community around here and this is the last thing you expect on your doorstep.”
Police are now appealling for witnesses to the incident which happened at 9.05am on Sunday.
Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team Sgt Peter Clarke said: “Luckily no-one was inside the building at the time this incident occurred, but the shop has been left with extensive damage to the front.
“We are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the driver of this lorry in the Poolstock Lane area of Wigan on Sunday morning, or who witnessed the lorry being abandoned nearby on Elliott Drive shortly afterwards.
“We are carrying out inquiries in the area and will be speaking to local residents and businesses, so please come and speak to your local officers if you have any information.”
Anyone with information can also call police on 0161 856 7188 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.