Armed robbers strike at off-licence

By James MortlockROBBERS wielding a sawn-off shotgun and a knife burst into an off-licence and ordered terrified staff to hand over cash.The gang, who were masked in balaclavas, struck at the Unwins store in Eastgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, yesterday afternoon.

By James Mortlock

ROBBERS wielding a sawn-off shotgun and a knife burst into an off-licence and ordered terrified staff to hand over cash.

The gang, who were masked in balaclavas, struck at the Unwins store in Eastgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, yesterday afternoon.

They fled on foot with money from the till and a cache of cigarettes, running in the direction of the Vinefields housing estate opposite the busy store.

Shocked staff looked visibly shaken by their ordeal, but a manager said everyone had coped well.

The man, who declined to be named, added: “We're all okay. No-one was hurt by the robbers and there were no customers in the store at the time.”

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Suffolk police spokesman, Mike Nunn, said: “Details are still sketchy at this stage, but it has been reported that two men wearing balaclavas entered the store on Eastgate Street at approximately 3pm.

“Early reports indicate one was carrying what is believed to be a sawn-off shotgun and the other was carrying a knife.

“They made demands in the store for money to be handed over before leaving the scene on foot in the direction of the Vinefields housing estate. They took with them a quantity of cash and cigarettes.”

Mr Nunn said the men were both wearing dark tracksuit bottoms and light-coloured roll-neck tops. One was wearing a dark balaclava and the other a light-coloured balaclava.

Residents said they knew nothing of the raid until they heard the police helicopter overhead searching for the robbers.

One resident, who had returned from holiday in Spain only minutes earlier, said the shop had been targeted by vandals and smash-and-grab raiders over the past few months.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said he was appalled by the robbery.

“It's awful to think that this should happen here in the middle of the afternoon - especially as there are so many children around walking from and to town during half-term,” he added.

No-one from Unwins press office was available last night to comment on the robbery.

Anyone with information should contact Bury St Edmunds police on 01284 774100 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

james.mortlock@eadt.co.uk

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