Garage worker quits after armed robbery

By Roddy AshworthTHE owner of a garage where an armed robber threatened a woman member of staff with a gun has told how she had been left so shaken by her ordeal that she had given up her job.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE owner of a garage where an armed robber threatened a woman member of staff with a gun has told how she had been left so shaken by her ordeal that she had given up her job.

The robbery happened at about 6pm on Saturday when a man walked into the Mount Hill Garage in Mount Hill, Halstead, brandished a handgun and demanded cash.

He stole an unspecified sum of money before fleeing from the garage on foot, turning left in the direction of Braintree.


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John Lovric, garage proprietor, said the woman had suffered from enormous shock and would not return to work at the garage.

"She won't come back to work again. She is very badly shaken up. She was very distressed after the incident. Her husband came up today and said she still wasn't very well," he added.

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"The man who did it was very blatant. He had no balaclava or mask. We have clear pictures of him on CCTV. He just went in and pulled a gun on her.

"We have no idea what's behind it. I know there has been a lot like this going on, but they usually mask their face. This man had no disguise at all."

The robber was described as white, aged between 25 and 28, 5ft 8in tall, of slim build, clean-shaven, with short, dark-brown hair and wearing a dark zipped top with a red logo on the chest lapel, dark trousers and white trainers.

He had been seen hanging around in the area for about an hour before the robbery and police said they wanted to talk to customers who used the garage between 5.30pm and 6pm.

They were especially keen to speak to a customer who bought some Hamlet cigars. Anyone with information should contact Braintree police on 01376 551312.

Meanwhile, the detective leading the operation to catch the robbers and ram-raiders who have struck at post offices, shops and garages across East Anglia has warned criminals they will be caught.

Detective Chief Inspector George Barr, head of Operation Arctic, the regional crackdown on armed robberies, was speaking after a 17-year-old was arrested and charged with two robberies in Colchester and Stowmarket.

"Through Operation Arctic we have been able to gather intelligence and information on a number of teams of criminals operating in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

"I hope this arrest sends out a warning to anyone considering committing this type of offence – we know who you are and you will be caught."

As part of Operation Arctic, police will continue to carry out high-visibility patrols to work as a deterrent and offer reassurance to staff in post offices or convenience stores.

Det Chief Insp Barr added: The Operation Arctic team are currently working with security specialists in private industry and with colleagues in police forces throughout the region to enable officers to best advise vulnerable premises on crime prevention measures.

"Officers are also compiling crime prevention advice to send to possible ram-raid or robbery targets and are planning a crime reduction seminar for at-risk store owners later this year.

"Meanwhile, I would urge staff in post offices and convenience stores, or premises with publicly accessible cash machines, to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police, no matter how trivial it may seem."

He continued: "I would also advise store owners to ensure any CCTV or other surveillance equipment they have on their premises is in working order and is used.

"I would also encourage store owners to empty cash machines nightly if they are able to and not to keep large quantities of cash on their premises.

"Officers will continue to work hard to reduce the number of ram-raids and robberies in the region. Thirteen people have already been arrested as part of Operation Arctic and I am confident that, with the intelligence and information we are gathering, this figure will rise over the coming months."

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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