Raiders strike at two post offices

DETECTIVES are hunting raiders who struck at two post offices in East Anglia – on the day a campaign to make the establishments safer was launched.Police and paramedics were first called to the post office on Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, at about 7.

By Danielle Nuttall

DETECTIVES are hunting raiders who struck at two post offices in East Anglia – on the day a campaign to make the establishments safer was launched.

Police and paramedics were first called to the post office on Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, at about 7.10am yesterday after two people entered the premises just as the postmaster was about to open up.

And in the second incident, staff at Isleham post office were left terrified after an armed raider burst into the store and demanded cash.


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In the first incident, the robbers approached the victim from behind and demanded he hand over money before assaulting him. At this stage it is not thought he was hit with a weapon of any kind.

The robbers are believed to have fled the Chantry store empty-handed, driving off along Sheldrake Drive and into Gannet Road in a dark coloured Audi.

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The victim received head and facial injuries and was taken to Ipswich Hospital by ambulance. His injuries are not thought to be serious.

In the Isleham incident, a man wearing a balaclava struck at the post office shortly before 2.30pm, before escaping with an accomplice after taking money from the cashiers.

The police have yet to release details of the weapon involved, and it is not believed anyone was injured.

Yesterday's raid was the second robbery in the isolated village in less than a week, and has prompted fears among the community that businesses in Isleham may be seen as an easy target.

Five days ago, a raider wearing dark clothing robbed the village's Co-op store at gunpoint. The man, who forced staff and customers to lie face-down on the floor, escaped with a "very small" quantity of cash, police sources said.

Speaking after the latest incident, one man, who runs a business in the village and asked not to be named, said: "The village seems to be a target at the moment. I think it's shocking and people will be dismayed this has happened again."

Another resident, who also asked not to be identified, said the entire community was concerned by the two robberies: "It is very worrying. The post office is an incredibly valuable resource and if it closes it would affect dozens of elderly people."

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said it was believed a second man, acting as an accomplice, was waiting outside the Sun Street branch with a dog. The pair made their escape in a car after stealing an undisclosed quantity of cash.

Both of yesterday's incidents came on the day Operation Penny was launched by Suffolk police – a campaign to prevent post offices, their staff and customers from becoming the victims of the robbery.

It comes after a series of armed robberies in Suffolk over the last month, and almost a year after two armed robberies in less than a month forced Little Stonham post office to close. But the store now hopes to be back in business before Christmas.

It was targeted twice during November 2002 , and the second raid traumatised postmistress Sarah Buttle so badly she could not continue.

Now her parents Lynn and Colin Buttle have applied to the Post Office to reopen. Mrs Buttle said the opening date will be dependent upon the Post Office, which has to organise reintroduction of the computer system and put her through a retraining course.

She said: "After the raids last year our daughter could not face running the post office again, and she has now moved out of the area.

"We know how much the people of Stonham want the post office back, and my husband and I asked people in the village if they wanted to take it on, but no one did," said Mrs Buttle.

n Any witnesses to the Ipswich raid should call Dc Steve Williamson at Ipswich CID on 01473 383133 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Witnesses to the Isleham raid should contact Cambridgeshire Police, on 01223 358966 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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