Ram raiders strike three times

THIEVES have escaped with hundreds of cigarettes and caused serious damage after carrying out early morning ram raids using stolen cars on shops in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

THIEVES have escaped with hundreds of cigarettes and caused serious damage after carrying out early morning ram raids using stolen cars on shops in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Detectives are now working on the theory the same gang are responsible for all three raids in Ipswich, Clare and Burwell, which happened in less then a two-hour period.

Staff at one of the shops in Clare were left devastated as it comes just weeks after another robbery at the store.

The raiders first struck at the One Stop Shop in Reynolds Way, Ipswich, at around 3.30am yesterday , reversing a stolen green Izuzu Trooper into the front of the store, causing substantial damage.

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Around five men, wearing balaclavas or scarves and holding what appeared to be baseball bats were seen speeding away from the scene in two vehicles, leaving behind the Izuzu vehicle, which had been stolen earlier from the Essex area. It is believed nothing was taken from inside the shop.

At around 4.15am police were called to a second ram raid at the Co-op Store at Market Hill, Clare.

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On this occasion the thieves crashed a red Ford Fiesta into the back of the store to gain entry, and stole hundreds of cigarettes. The Fiesta was left at the scene and eyewitnesses described seeing a light coloured hatchback, possibly a Vauxhall, and a dark coloured Peugeot leaving the scene at speed in the direction of Stoke-by-Clare. The Fiesta had been stolen earlier from Hertford Road in Clare.

The incident, which caused thousands of pounds of damage, caused the shop to close for the day and comes just weeks after robbers broke into the store in the early hours of October 20 and stole a quantity of tobacco.

A Co-op spokesman said: "The vehicle was driven into the back of the shop causing a lot of damage. A quantity of tobacco was taken, but at this stage we cannot confirm if anything else was taken in the raid.

"We are now working with the police and have handed over CCTV footage of the store and as with any incident such as this we will be reviewing security measures at the store. Last month three men broke into the store in the early hours and again stole cigarettes. We are appealing for anyone with information to come forward."

Detectives were yesterday carrying out forensic and door-to-door inquiries in and around Clare.

The first assailant was described as white, of medium to stocky build and was wearing a light coloured jacket with the word 'bear' across the chest and stripes down the front of each arm. He was also wearing tracksuit bottoms and dark trainers. The second was of heavy build and wearing a dark jacket and light coloured footwear. The third man was of medium build and was wearing a dark coloured hooded jacket with light coloured arms.

The third raid, also on a Co-op store, happened on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border at Burwell.

The ram raiders used a grey Jeep Cherokee to smash the entrance of the store in North Street, at around 5am and again escaped with a quantity of cigarettes.

The Jeep had earlier been stolen from the Causeway in Burwell and Cambridgeshire police are now calling for witnesses to come forward.

Detectives now believe all the raids could be linked. A Suffolk police spokesman said: "It is too early to say for sure, but we will be investigating a possible link with these offences. Due to the nature of these offences and the timescale in which they happened, it would seem possible the same people carried them out.

"We are now appealing for anyone with any information over any of these offences to contact the police immediately."

Anybody with any information should contact Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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