Armed gang strike at village store

By Craig RobinsonSTAFF and customers are recovering after a terrifying raid by armed and hooded robbers on a village store.The robbery took place at the Co-op store in Old Street, Haughley, near Stowmarket, on Saturday night - the second time in just over six months that the village has been targeted by armed raiders.

By Craig Robinson

STAFF and customers are recovering after a terrifying raid by armed and hooded robbers on a village store.

The robbery took place at the Co-op store in Old Street, Haughley, near Stowmarket, on Saturday night - the second time in just over six months that the village has been targeted by armed raiders.

Two men wearing balaclavas and brandishing knives, one of which was described as a machete, burst into the store at 6.35pm and ordered customers - including a young girl - to lie on the floor.

They then demanded money from the two women shop assistants and cash was handed over from the till and the safe, which was in the back office. Both robbers fled on foot towards St Mary's Avenue.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Brighton, of Suffolk police, said: "Fortunately, no-one was hurt in this incident, but the customers, who included a young girl, and staff at the store were left extremely shaken."

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It is the second time in just over six months that a store in Haughley has been targeted by armed raiders.

In August last year a masked gang, armed with a hammer, shotgun and scythe-like weapon, struck at the village post office.

They demanded cash from two women assistants, but fled empty-handed after the workers set off an alarm.

Jeffrey Bowden, chairman of Haughley Parish Council, said: "It is obviously very concerning as it is the second time in the last six months that the village has been targeted.

"Unfortunately, as I said last time, things like this are bound to happen again as it is a sign of the times, which is a worrying trend.

"Small stores like this, which are open late seven days a week, are soft targets because the raiders can strike when they think it will be most quiet.

"This is especially true where there are female shop assistants because they are probably more vulnerable, particularly when confronted with weapons."

John Davie-Thornhill, Mid Suffolk district councillor for Haughley and Wetherden, added: "It is absolutely shocking especially for the poor two assistants and my sympathies to go out to them and their families.

"I'm obviously very concerned as it comes only a few months after the post office suffered a similar incident. I hope that the police will catch whoever did this as soon as possible."

Both of the men in the latest robbery were wearing balaclavas and black "bomber-style" jackets. One was described as 5ft tall and of stocky build, while his accomplice was 5ft 9in tall and of medium build.

Staff at the store declined to comment yesterday and its owners, Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society, was not available for comment.

Anyone with information should contact Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

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