Masked men stormed a jewellery shop before escaping in a Mini Cooper during a smash-and-grab raid that was “like something out of the Italian Job”.

Two men drove into Grand Arcade, a parade of shops in an alleyway at Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley, before getting out and bursting into Gold Leaf Jeweller's at 11.20am this morning.

One of the men smashed a glass cabinet with a concrete slab and the pair grabbed fistfuls of jewellery while shouting threats at the owners - a couple believed to be in their 40s.

Witnesses described how the wife tried to stop the robbers and grabbed hold of one while screaming at them to “get out”.

She was injured in the melée and has been taken to hospital, though her injuries are not thought to be serious.

The pair then fled to their white getaway car before reversing out of the parade and driving the wrong way down Ballards Lane and away past the artsdepot.

A young woman was nearly hit by the car as it drove into the alleyway from the Ballards Lane side of Tally Ho Corner.

Funke Osundina, who works opposite the jeweller’s and called the police, said: “I was scared - it was like something out of that film the Italian Job. I thought it was some sort of prank at first – I was in shock.

“I heard this almighty bang as they forced their way into the shop. Then I could just hear shouting and the woman screaming – she was so brave.

“They are such a nice couple. She is such a lovely woman it is a real shame this has happened.”

Detectives from Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad have been brought in to investigate the raid – the latest in a series across north London in recent weeks.

Forensics officers are carrying out investigation work at the scene this afternoon.

Massimo Zazzi, 17, was walking past when he saw the pair get out of the car. He said: “They looked me straight in the eyes but their faces were covered.

“As they went in I could hear lots of smashing glass and shouting and screaming. It was scary – my heart was beating. I feel safe in this area but I was pretty shocked by it to be honest.”

The incident follows a high-profile raid at Brent Cross Shopping Centre last month when a gang rode in on motorbikes before targeting a jeweller’s.

Within two weeks, another jeweller’s was raided by men on motorbikes in Kilburn and another in Edgware was targeted in an attempted robbery in the middle of the day.