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Eyewitness to raid on Co-op in Clare speaks of police resources being stretched

PUBLISHED: 16:57 21 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:57 21 March 2018

Clare Co-op has been burgled overnigh with suspects using sledge hammers and an axe. Picture: ARCHANT

Clare Co-op has been burgled overnigh with suspects using sledge hammers and an axe. Picture: ARCHANT

An eyewitness to the raid on a Co-op store in West Suffolk has spoken of the problems police face attending incidents in rural locations.

Clare Co-op has been burgled overnigh with suspects using sledge hammers and an axe. Picture: ARCHANTClare Co-op has been burgled overnigh with suspects using sledge hammers and an axe. Picture: ARCHANT

It comes following a raid in the early hours of yesterday morning on Market Hill, Clare, and officers are not ruling out the possibility of it being linked with a similar burglary on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border in Isleham.

Town councillor Paul Bishop, who lives above the store was disturbed by the breaking of glass with a sledgehammer by the raiders.

“I saw three to four people empty the Co-op of cigarettes and alcohol and put it in the back of their car and drive off. Both me and my wife Christina were in bed but I got up and then phoned the police. “They arrived within five or six minutes. But it’s a real problem living in the country as police are spread so thinly now. It would be great if we had more police around but the reality is that its always going to be a problem for rural locations.”

It prompted a response from the force with chief inspector David Giles saying: “Whilst we endeavour to respond effectively to calls across our rural county, prioritising crime in progress or danger to life incidents, we recognise the valuable role that members of the public can play in being vigilant and reporting any signs of suspicious behaviour to us.”

Officers said they were not formally linking the two but that they were looking to “explore” a linkage between them.

Up to five men in balaclavas used sledge hammers to smash the window of the Co-op, in West Street, Isleham, at 11.25pm on Tuesday. They stole cigarettes and made off in a coupe-style vehicle along Mill Street and Malting Lane.

Detective Sergeant Emma Smith said: “I’m keen to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and may have seen these men or the vehicle in the moments leading up to and after the burglary.”

And 75 minutes later officers were called to reports of three suspects using a sledge hammer and an axe to smash a window at the Co-op, in Clare. A black Audi saloon car was believed to be involved in the incident and suspects made off with stolen alcohol and cigarettes from the store.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “We are looking to explore whether the two incidents are linked.”

The store opened later in the afternoon and a spokesperson for the Co-op said: “We appeal for anyone with information to come forward to the police, who are investigating.”

Witnesses can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestop-pers-uk.org

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