Town hit by three armed robberies

TWO people were being questioned last night after armed robbers struck at a shop – the third attack in the town in the space of 24 hours.The pair were being held at Colchester police station following the raid in the town centre yesterday afternoon.

TWO people were being questioned last night after armed robbers struck at a shop – the third attack in the town in the space of 24 hours.

The pair were being held at Colchester police station following the raid in the town centre yesterday afternoon.

Armed police and the force's helicopter were deployed at about 2.30pm after two men targeted RM News in Osborne Street.

The owner, Rohit Patel, said his wife, Yashaswini, had been alone in the newsagents when the robbers struck.

“Two guys came in, pulled out a gun and threatened her until she handed over some money,” he said.

“She gave them some cash and they then ran off. She's very shaken by it.”

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Police were last night trying to establish whether the Osborne Street raid was linked to two others they think were carried out by the same people on Tuesday night and yesterday morning.

Bakula Patel, who runs News Plus Newsagents, East Street, Colchester, said she was proud of her employee who stood her ground when a man pointed a gun at her at 9.30am yesterday.

It is the second time in three years the store has been targeted by gunmen.

Mrs Patel was not in the shop herself at the time of the raid, but had spoken to her member of staff, whom she did not want to name.

A man, who was not wearing a balaclava, walked in and pretended to look at newspapers and magazines waiting for customers to disappear.

Mrs Patel said: “He then asked my member of staff for cigarettes and pulled out a gun from his pocket.

“He demanded money from the till, but she said 'no' and pressed the panic button under the counter.

“The alarms started going off and I don't think he knew what to do next and he just left.

“I'm very proud of her – she's been here a long time and is a very good worker.

“We were raided three years ago, but we're not frightened about these people. We have CCTV pictures of him and the police will get him.”

At 11pm on Tuesday night, a robber armed with a gun held up the Eastwood Service Station shop, Ipswich Road, and demanded cigarettes.

The woman worker handed them over and he ran off towards the A12.

Police said they wanted to trace the drivers of a white VW Passat and dark Ford Focus who had just left the garage when the robber struck.

They think they may have seen the robber, who was described as white, between 5ft 6ins and 5ft 9ins tall, clean-shaven and in his 20s.

The Colchester raids come hours after a post office worker refused to hand over cash at gunpoint in Thorrington on Tuesday.

Anyone with information about any of the raids is asked to contact Colchester police on 01206 762212.

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