THOUSANDS of pounds have been stolen in a street robbery outside Blackburn's five-day market in Penny Street.

Detectives today appealed for witnesses to the theft which took place as a holiday sales rep was taking the weekend's takings to the bank at 9.50am on Monday.

The 21-year-old was left in shock and with a sprained wrist after trying to prevent her shoulder bag which contained the money being stolen.

DC Mick Cross from Blackburn CID said: "This woman was left very shocked after the theft.

"A man wearing a high visibility workman's jacket approached her from behind as she approached the doors leading into the covered market on the Penny Street side.

"He asked her for a light for a cigarette before grabbing her bag from her shoulder which contained a substantial amount of money."

The man is described as being white and slim in his early 20s, about 5ft 11ins, with short dark hair.

He ran off and got into a large white van which had been parked on the zig-zag lines next to the zebra crossing on Penny Street.

DC Cross added: "The van sped off up Penny Street.

"We are hoping that due to the high number of shoppers and workers who were in the area at that time in the morning that somebody must have witnessed what happened."

l Anyone with information should call Blackburn police on 01254 51212 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 08000 555 111.