A leading Lancashire gundealer has appealed for help from shooters around Britain after thieves broke into his family firm?s new showroom and escaped with a haul of firearms.

Fourteen shotguns, eight Weihrauch air rifles and a cartridge rifle were taken during the robbery at McAvoy Guns in Standish, near Wigan.

Tim McAvoy said: ?It is incredibly upsetting, but the number of people who have posted on forums, called in to the shop or phoned has amazed us and just shows what superb people make up the shooting community. We?ve released the guns? serial numbers in the hope that some may be offered for sale and will lead to the culprits who committed this crime.?

Mr McAvoy also praised the ?superb work? of Greater Manchester Police: ?There were witnesses, and we have footage on our CCTV, so we?re still hopeful that at least some of the guns will be recovered.?

One of the air rifles and the cartridge rifle, which police say probably fell out of the boot of the thieves? car as they sped off, have already been found.

Detective Sergeant Graham Clare, of Wigan CID, said: ?We are working to find those responsible and recover these weapons, to try and take them off the streets as soon as possible.?

?We are appealing for the community to help us in our efforts to do this, by contacting us if they know the whereabouts of these guns or if they hear of anyone offering them for sale.?