Armed gang reward fund soars
THE reward offered for the capture and conviction of a professional gang of violent armed robbers operating in Suffolk and Essex has grown to £2,500.Earlier this week, the EADT joined forces with a local shopkeeper to offer £1,500 for information leading to the conviction of the gang, which is thought to have carried out up to 19 armed robberies and ram-raids on rural post offices and shops since October.
THE reward offered for the capture and conviction of a professional gang of violent armed robbers operating in Suffolk and Essex has grown to £2,500.
Earlier this week, the EADT joined forces with a local shopkeeper to offer £1,500 for information leading to the conviction of the gang, which is thought to have carried out up to 19 armed robberies and ram-raids on rural post offices and shops since October.
Detectives believe the same criminal fraternity may also be behind similar raids that have happened in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
Now the Co-op, which has had eight of its stores targeted during the recent crime wave, has joined the EADT's campaign by contributing a further £1,000 to the scheme.
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A spokesman said: “The Co-operative group takes the issue of retail crime very seriously and we are prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our staff and customers.
“We hope that by contributing to this reward those responsible for the attacks on our stores are brought to justice.”
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Ten of the raids have happened within the last month, with six taking place in the Sudbury and north Essex area within the past nine days.
A leading Suffolk detective has now confirmed he believes the raids are being carried out by a close-knit network of criminals, based in East Anglia, who are working together.
Det Sup Int Stewart Gull, of Suffolk police, said: “I suspect what we have here is a closely connected network of offenders who are mixing and matching teams when carrying out the raids.
“Historically, it is known this type of offender does travel a large distance to commit their crimes, but I believe this band to be operating from within the region. There is a pattern here and I would also second-guess these people have a record of previous offending.
“There are some distinct similarities to many of these offences. The majority seem to have happened at small premises in rural environments, where potentially they are not so well protected.
“There has been a recent increase in these type of offences across the county and we have been talking with neighbouring forces in Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, where similar offences have occurred since late last year.
“As with any form of violent crime we are very concerned for people's safety and we appeal to any member of the public to call us immediately if they see anything suspicious.”
He added detectives are currently examining both forensic and CCTV evidence.
During several of the raids, staff and shoppers have been subjected to terrifying ordeals, with at least one having a gun pointed at her face and others being forced to lie on the floor at gunpoint.
Both Suffolk and Essex police forces are now considering adding the reward fund. Anyone with any information should telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.