Staff threatened with screwdriver and axe in one of two Co-op raids in Essex overnight

Burglars broke into the Co-op in Barfield Road, West Mersea. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Burglars broke into the Co-op in Barfield Road, West Mersea. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Google Maps

Police are ruling out links between an armed robbery and a break-in at two closely located Co-op stores in Essex.

Detectives are treating the raids as two separate crimes despite their proximity in time and distance.

The first incident, an armed robbery, happened on Monday night in Regent Street, Rowhedge, where two armed robbers held up a branch of the Co-op with a screwdriver and an axe.

The masked men threatened staff into handing over cigarettes and cash just after 8pm.

A three figure sum of cash was stolen by the men, who then made off on foot towards the High Street, where they are believed to have made off in a dark grey getaway car in the direction of Heath Road.

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One of the men was white, between 5ft 6in and 5ft 8in, and wearing a black Adidas hooded top, scruffy trainers, grey gloves and a blue ski mask.

The other suspect was also white and wore a Spiderman mask.

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Anyone with information is asked to call Colchester CID on 101. Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Meanwhile, police are appealing for help from the public to catch three men wanted for burgling a Co-op about eight miles away, just four hours later.

The trio stole alcohol and cigarettes from the store in West Mersea.

Essex police were called to reports of a break-in at the Co-op in Barfield Road on Tuesday morning.

Officers established that a crowbar had been used to gain entry to the shop.

A force spokesman said: “We are appealing for witnesses following a burglary at the Co-op in Barfield Road, West Mersea, which happened just before 12.15am on Tuesday.

“Three men broke in to the store by forcing open the doors, and stole cigarettes and alcohol from inside.

“They were dressed in dark clothing and it’s believed a crowbar was used to force open the doors.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Colchester police station on 101 quoting incident number 42/37757/18 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Detectives are not currently linking the two crimes at this time.

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