Police have urged pawn shop owners to watch out for stolen gold after a series of robberies in Bradford in which women have had jewellery ripped from their necks. In one, a terrified 70-year-old woman was woken by two men who had got into her bedroom.

One of them was holding a large screwdriver and shining a torch at her, while his accomplice tried to snatch the two necklaces she was wearing.

He succeeded in snapping one of the gold chains from her neck. The pair fled with it after being disturbed by the woman’s husband who had heard the commotion.

The raid happened at the house in Flockton Road, East Bowling , Bradford, where the couple have lived for 40 years. Although the woman was badly shaklen, she was not physically injured in the robbery.

But Detective Inspector Tony Nicholson, of Bradford South CID, who is leading the investigation, said it had been a “terrifying and upsetting ordeal”.

He said there had been similar jewellery thefts in recent weeks, though it was not clear whether they were linked.

Three incidents, in which gold jewellery was ripped from the necks of Asian women in the street, occurred within a week of each other, at Laisterdyke , Great Horton and Horton Grange.

Det Insp Nicholson said: “Our resources are fully focused on apprehending the offenders. I can assure people that we are working hard to trace the culprits.”

The suspects, who entered the East Bowling property after breaking a lock on the ground floor, are believed to be white and in their late teens.

Det Insp Nicholson said: “We have made numerous inquiries to locate these men, but we need that vital piece of information which will enable us to make arrests.

“I believe the answer lies in the local community, and I call on members of the public to help us identify them.

“It is likely these men have targeted their victim for their jewellery and we would like to hear from anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity near or around the address prior to the offence.

“It is also possible that the men may have tried to sell the necklaces, either in the street or at local pawn shops.

“If you have been approached, or remember someone attempting to sell these items, we need to know.”

Although the price of gold has fallen from its peak last year, its value still remains high, and so a target for criminals.

Police are urging any pawnbrokers who recalls any suspicious customers, to check their CCTV in case any suspects can be identified.

Any witnesses to the East Bowling robbery – which happened at 10.30pm on Thursday, August 2 – or anyone with information, is asked to contact Bradford South CID on the non-emergency number 101, or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.