A POLICE search was sparked at lunchtime today after three people attacked a security guard in the Apple store before making off with a large amount of iPhones.

Hampshire Police deployed a police helicopter and armed officers to search for the thieves, with two arrested within the first hour.

A 26-year-old from Brighton Hill was out shopping with her sister moments before the incident occurred.

She told the Gazette that her, her sister and her young niece were just walking through the door of the store when everything unfolded.

Basingstoke Gazette:

She said: “There were about four men in there late 20s stood by the phones as you walk in the store.

“Suddenly they all just grabbed some of the phones and yanked them out of the security cable.

“The security guard approached them and they all got in his face shouting ‘what what what’ before shoving him and punching him.”

She said that when another security guard turned up they attacked him before running off in the direction of Eastrop Park.

She added: “It all happened so quickly and the store was quite quiet.

“I think everyone who was there was just in shock as to what was happening.”

She told the Gazette that they were all wearing “normal clothes” and none of they had their faces covered up, adding: “Hopefully their faces have been caught on CCTV.”

A spokesman for Hampshire Police said they were called at 12.05pm to reports of a theft of iPhones from the Apple Store in Festival Place.

Nine people were arrested but the incident was ongoing while officers tried to locate the stolen items.

A helicopter was circling the town centre while officers on the ground searched for the person. Police were spotted in Eastrop Park, War Memorial Park and the Top of Town.

Apple has been contacted for comment.

Festival Place said it was not able to comment as the incident was ongoing.