Police were ordered not to chase after motorbike thieves because of health and safety fears for the raiders, it was confirmed today.
The three-strong gang were not wearing crash-helmets when they roared off on stolen motorbikes worth £20,000 following the raid at a showroom.
In line with national police policy, officers do not give chase to suspects on motorbikes if they are not wearing helmets because it is deemed too dangerous to the rider.
The suspects fled on a Yamaha R1, a Honda 1000 Fireblade and a Honda CBR 600 following the raid at the Manchester Motorbike Store in Altrincham, Cheshire.
Officers had reportedly seen the raiders but when they contacted their inspector for guidance he ordered them not to pursue as none of the suspects were wearing helmets.
Today, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) defended their actions and said their officers were merely following national policy for all forces.
Superintendent Steve Nibloe, of GMP, said: "When police officers attended to this incident, suspects were seen driving off on motorbikes.
"The officers were asked not to pursue the suspects, as they were not wearing the correct safety equipment and were not wearing helmets, so it is clear to me the correct decision was taken.
"Greater Manchester Police follows a nationwide policy which gives clear guidance that motorbikes should not be pursued because of the higher risk of injury to the rider.
"Detectives are pursuing a number of positive leads around this burglary as part of their thorough investigation, which is ongoing."
Anyone with information about the raid, which happened at around 3am on Thursday 12 August, is asked to call police.