Four men have been arrested after they ploughed a car into the front of an Italian restaurant while trying to escape the police.

Just after 2.20am on Thursday, police were called to reports of a burglary at a house in Melrose Avenue, Didsbury.

The offenders are believed to have thrown a brick through the front door of the property, and taken a set of keys, before stealing a silver Audi A3 belonging to the householder.

A spokesperson for the police said: "Officers attempted to recover the vehicle and when they found it on Park Road close to the junction of Avon Road, the offenders were abandoning the car and making off in a blue VW Golf.

"They failed to stop for the police and a brief chase ended with the Golf losing control and smashing through the front of Dante's Italian restaurant on Ashley Road in Hale at around 2.35am."

Owners of the building, Paul and Daniel Bistacci, who lease the property to Dante's said they are just pleased that no-one was hurt.

Daniel Bistacci said: "The extent of the damage to the building is significant.

"Even the police said the drivers were lucky the building didn't come down on top of them.

"When the car crashed it pushed all of the front of the building to the back, and damaged a water pipe which has left the whole of the restaurant flooded.

"There'll need to be a new floor fitted upstairs as well as downstairs.

"We were very lucky to get the builders in quickly this morning, and the building has been secured and propped up with scaffolding.

"They're going to be working through Christmas to get it all sorted, which is amazing of them.

"However, a building is a building at the end of the day.

"We're just glad no one of any importance was hurt.

"It's the owners of Dante's who we feel sorry for, and their customers. We used to run Danilo's before it became Dante's so we know how important Christmas is for a restaurant business.

"The businesses in Hale are really good though so hopefully people will rally round to help, so we can get it back open as soon as possible."

Dante's posted a notice on their website this morning, which read: "Due to the incident on the 19th December we are unable to open again in 2019.

"Unfortunately the damage to the restaurant is significant and our main priority is contacting customers who have Christmas and New Year plans with us.

"We are so sorry for any inconvenience caused."

Two men – aged 29 and 18 – and two boys – both 17-years old – were arrested at the scene on suspicion of burglary and aggravated vehicle taking without owner’s consent.

All four suffered minor injuries as a result of the incident and were taken to hospital for treatment.

The 18-year-old and a 17-year-old have since been discharged from hospital and taken to custody for questioning.

A police cordon remains in place around the building as investigators continue to survey the scene.

Officers want to hear from members of the public who may have witnessed the incident or have dashcam footage.

Detective Sergeant Kate Grundy, of GMP’s City of Manchester Division, said: “This was a distressing incident for the victims of the theft to have their property targeted in the middle of the night as well as the owners of the restaurant which has sadly had to close due to the extensive damage caused.

“Our response team acted swiftly to detain the suspects and although we have made four arrests we are still keen to speak to anyone who may have seen a silver Audi or blue Volkswagen Golf driving through the areas between Eccles and Hale at the time of the incident.

“In particular, we want anyone with any dashcam footage that could be related to this incident to come forward and get in touch with police.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident should contact police on 0161 856 4973 quoting incident number 253 of December 19.

Alternatively, information can be reported anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.