Thieves ran over a shop worker as they escaped from a garden centre at speed.?The woman was badly injured following the horrific incident at the Newbank Garden Centre off Bury Road, near Radcliffe, on Tuesday afternoon.
She had followed the two women and a nine-year-old girl to their BMW car and the driver reversed into her. The shop worker suffered a broken thigh and was taken to hospital.
The centre’s manager Andrew Corristine said he was alarmed by the incident and appealed for people who know those responsible to come forward.
“We’ve had to deal with shoplifters before, but nothing like this. It’s shocking,” said Mr Corristine.
He added: “Everyone is thinking of her and wishing her well. I’d appeal to anyone with information about this crime to call the police,”
The trio had been in the garden centre just before 3.45pm. When they left the store, the shop’s exit alarm sounded and one of the women stayed behind while the other accompanied the girl back to a BMW 218i car.
Staff asked the woman inside the shop to look in her bag, and then asked to look inside a bag held by the child.
As the shop assistant walked to the car, the two women and the child got into the BMW and the driver ? believed to be one of the women ? reversed it at her.
The car then sped off ? and police are now trying to trace it. Officers are investigating the possibility that the car was driven at the worker deliberately.
Mr Corristine called 999 and paramedics arrived to treat the victim at the scene.
She was taken to Royal Oldham Hospital suffering from a suspected broken thigh bone.
The woman, who is in her 50s, has been allowed home, and must undergo further tests in the next few days to establish the extent of her injuries.
Scenes of crime officers carried out tests at the scene on Tuesday night and yesterday morning, and police are now hunting the two women.
CCTV footage from inside the store shows one of the women stealing Yankee Candles worth around ?200.
Mr Corristine said: “We’ve passed the footage of what happened inside the shop to the police and they have taken our statements.
“This is a really serious incident and I just hope that the police catch them.”
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “The two women are described as in their late 30s or early 40s and of slim build and were both wearing blue jeans and sandals.
“One had dark hair and was wearing a grey long-sleeved shirt and the other had blonde hair with brunette highlights and was wearing a blue T-shirt.”