Gardaí are searching for three men who were disturbed during a break-in at a house on the Rochestown Road on the outskirts of Cork city at around 3pm this afternoon.

As the men attempted to escape in a grey-coloured Audi vehicle, they rammed a garda patrol car which had tried to intercept them.

The trio then drove a distance with a number of unmarked and garda squad cars in pursuit, before abandoning their car on the westbound embankment of the N40 at the Carrigaline exit.

In an effort to avoid arrest, the three ran across the west and eastbound lanes of the N40 - and across slob land - in the direction of Mahon Golf Course.

A garda aircraft has been helping with the search which is continuing.

People are warned to be on the alert for the three who are described as being wet, dirty and wearing mucky clothing.

One burglar is described as wearing a dark grey tracksuit, the other a light grey tracksuit. 

The third burglar wore a white top, and dark pants.