Armed robbers strike at village store

By James HoreA POSTMISTRESS held up at gunpoint by balaclava-clad raiders has praised the bravery of customers who tried to stop the robbers. Patricia Ford was behind the counter of Nayland Post Office, on the Essex-Suffolk border, yesterday when three armed men rushed in and smashed the glass shield with a baseball bat.

By James Hore

A POSTMISTRESS held up at gunpoint by balaclava-clad raiders has praised the bravery of customers who tried to stop the robbers.

Patricia Ford was behind the counter of Nayland Post Office, on the Essex-Suffolk border, yesterday when three armed men rushed in and smashed the glass shield with a baseball bat.

The raiders, armed with a shotgun, a crowbar and the baseball bat, told Mrs Ford to hand over money before fleeing the scene.

One customer tried to delay the gang in the High Street store, but was knocked out of the way.

The robbers left with an “undisclosed” amount of cash and their getaway car - a red Ford Sierra - was later found abandoned in a field in Polstead, near Stoke-by-Nayland.

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Police checks on the vehicle showed it had been stolen from a garage in Great Waldingfield, near Sudbury, on Monday.

Mrs Ford said she was thankful to the customers who were in the store at about 9.30am when the armed gang struck.

“I had some really brave customers in here today and I am so grateful to them. One physically stepped in and got knocked down,” she added.

“In trying to delay them he gave me a chance to think about what was going on. I am fine, it was the one with the baseball bat whom I was scared of because that smashed the screen.

“I would like to thank the customers who were in here. I am not sure I would have been that brave without them.”

Mrs Ford was not injured during the raid, although one woman suffered a grazed arm when she was knocked to the floor.

It is the second time the post office has been hit by robbers in the past two years, but in a show of defiance it was open for business again within hours of yesterday's raid.

In 2002 axe-wielding robbers escaped with thousands of pounds despite the efforts of one man to follow their getaway car.

Detectives said the men involved in yesterday's robbery had all been wearing dark clothing and balaclavas. Witnesses said there had also been a getaway driver sitting nervously in the Ford Sierra.

Police said they would also be investigating the possibility that the raid was linked to an armed robbery on August 12 in which three balaclava-clad raiders demanded cash from workers at Haughley Post Office.

But they fled the scene empty-handed, dumping their getaway car, a red Ford Sierra, in Dagworth Lane on the outskirts of the village.

Anyone with information about the Nayland armed raid should contact Sudbury police on 01284 774300 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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