Armed raid being investigated for links

POLICE are today investigating links between an armed raid on a Suffolk store and a string of others in the county.Staff and customers are recovering after hooded robbers burst into the Co-op store, in Old Street, Haughley, on Saturday night.

POLICE are today investigating links between an armed raid on a Suffolk store and a string of others in the county.

Staff and customers are recovering after hooded robbers burst into the Co-op store, in Old Street, Haughley, on Saturday night.

Two men wearing balaclavas and brandishing knives, one of which was described as a machete, entered the store at 6.35pm and ordered customers - including a young girl - to lie on the floor.

They then demanded money from the two women shop assistants. Cash was handed over from the till and the safe, which was in the back office. Both robbers fled on foot towards St Mary's Avenue.

Miriam Harrup, spokeswoman for the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op, said: "The incident on Saturday evening was extremely distressing for our employees and the customers involved.

"We would like to thank our staff for the professional way in which they handled the situation. The police attended the scene very quickly and we hope they're able to trace those involved in this nasty attack as soon as possible."

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Although the store closed on Saturday, it reopened on Sunday and was operating as usual today.

It was the second time in just over six months the village has been targeted by armed raiders, with the post office also held up in August.

The flurry of attacks on businesses in the county, and elsewhere in the region, has prompted detectives to believe a professional gang may be responsible.

Nearly 70 raids have taken place in East Anglia since August last year, including around 20 in Suffolk.

Although it is not known whether this latest attack is definitely linked with others in the county, a police spokeswoman today said the possibility is being looked into.

Jeffrey Bowden, chairman of Haughley Parish Council, said: "It is obviously very concerning as it is the second time in the last six months that the village has been targeted.

"Small stores like this, which are open late seven days a week, are soft targets because the raiders can strike when they think it will be most quiet.

"This is especially true where there are female shop assistants because they are probably more vulnerable, particularly when confronted with weapons."

Both of the male attackers were wearing balaclavas and black "bomber-style" jackets. One was described as 5ft tall and of stocky build, while his accomplice was 5ft 9in tall and of medium build.

Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.