Staff at an Essex Co-Op have been left terrified after men armed with hammers and knives took money from the store.

Ms Patel was speaking out after a robbery took place on Thursday evening at the in Witham just after 9.35pm.

Money and the draws from the tills were taken before the men left the shop and left on mopeds.

Staff were left terrifyed and shaken by the events.

“It must have been extremely distressing for the staff and any customers present at the time,” said Ms Patel.

“Shop staff and members of the public should be able to go about their day to day business without being threatened in this appalling way.

“The dangerous and vile offenders need apprehending and I know that the police will be working to bring these criminals to justice.

“They deserve to be punished with a long prison sentence.”

Ms Patel reiterated calls for those with any information to get in touch with Essex Police.

It’s not the first time that the Spa Road store has been targeted.

In June this year balaclava clad robbers stole a four-figure sum of cash from the store.

Knife wielding robbers also hit the store in February and threatened staff there as well as at the Co-Op’s nearby Silver End store.

Across Suffolk and North Essex alone over a dozen Co-Op and East of England Co-Op stores have been hit by ram raiders to access their cash machines.

A spokesman for the East of England Co-Op said:“I can confirm that an armed robbery took place at our store on Spa Road, Witham yesterday evening.

“We are supporting our colleagues involved in this distressing incident and would urge anyone with any information to contact Essex police or call Crimestoppers anonymously.”

Detective Sergeant Mick Carrington, from Braintree CID, said of the most recent attack: “This was a terrifying incident for the two members of staff involved and it’s really important we find those responsible.

“While they weren’t injured they have been left really shaken up.

“This was a cowardly act by the men involved who had little regard for the members of staff involved and their actions were totally unacceptable.

“If you have any information I need you to come forward and contact my team.”