Forces team up to catch armed robbers

DETECTIVES from four counties have joined forces in the hunt for a professional gang of violent armed robbers who are believed to have carried out nearly 70 terrifying raids across East Anglia.

DETECTIVES from four counties have joined forces in the hunt for a professional gang of violent armed robbers who are believed to have carried out nearly 70 terrifying raids across East Anglia.

In recent weeks the masked raiders have mainly targeted rural post offices and shops in west Suffolk and north Essex, where there have been more than 10 raids.

But detectives investigating now say the gang could be responsible for up to 67 robberies across the region since August last year.

Police in Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk have now launched a multi-force inquiry team in bid to track down the gang, which detectives believe is based within the region.


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A special inquiry room has been set-up for the team in Bury St Edmunds and CID officers from all four forces will be working side-by-side to gather information in a bid to bring the gang to justice.

The investigating team is looking at the links between all armed robberies and ram-raids and also at other offences such as attacks on ATM machines.

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Since August 2004, there have been 22-armed robberies and ram-raids in Suffolk, 19 in Essex, 16 in Cambridgeshire and 10 in Norfolk.

Detective Chief Inspector George Barr of Cambridgeshire police, who is leading the new inquiry team, said: “Working in the same room and holding joint briefings and meetings will assist us greatly in determining who is responsible for these offences.

“We have always worked well together across the borders, but this move will ease the flow of information between us.”

Many of the recent robberies have striking resemblances - convincing detectives the same criminal organisation is behind the crime spree.

The men are always aggressive and threatening - at least one victim has had a gun pointed at her face, while others have been forced to lie down at gunpoint.

Shotguns, axes, baseball bats, wrenches and even tree branches have all been used to terrify shop staff and customers.

The robbers always use stolen cars during the raids, most of which are later found burned out, and wear black balaclavas.

Officers are now stepping up high-visibility patrols in rural locations and they are also asking residents living near post offices and local shops to be vigilant.

DCI Barr said: “It is likely the offenders visit the premises in the hours, days or weeks leading up to the offence.

“This could simply be driving past or sitting in vehicles outside premises. We need people to act as our additional eyes and ears, the information the public give could prevent a robbery.”

Meanwhile, the EADT has joined forces with the Co-op and local shopkeeper Henry Byham - whose two Spar Shops in Long Melford and Great Cornard have been targeted by the gang in recent weeks - to offer a £2,500 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.

Anyone with information about the crimes should telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Meanwhile, witnesses who fear a robbery may about to be committed should telephone 999 immediately.

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