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Robbery threatens community life

PUBLISHED: 14:24 21 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

FEARS are growing among customers that their helpful Stowmarket post office may close following an armed robbery that shocked the quiet neighbourhood.

FEARS are growing among customers that their helpful Stowmarket post office may close following an armed robbery that shocked the quiet neighbourhood.

One concerned resident has spoken out as police quizzed motorists and passers-by exactly a week after the incident in Crown Street last Friday.

Two masked robber burst in on Jean Benson as she manned the till at around 2.45pm and threatened her with what appeared to be handgun. They stole a small quantity of cash but left the customers and the postmistress, who had been robbed three months before, in a state of terror.

"I'm a little concerned that she might close after what has happened. She is a very nice person and very helpful," said pensioner Fred Chalmers, who lives nearby. "We'd miss her terribly."

Mrs Benson's husband, Gordon, 60, a self-employed gardener, was out at the time of the robbery.

A security expert from the Post Office's parent company Consignia yesterday visited the couple to discuss stepping up security at the outlet, which lies in a secluded residential area.

Yesterday police were hoping to gather more evidence as they questioned passers-by about the crime. Two men, one wearing a balaclava, the other with his white t-shirt pulled over his face, fled in a white Astra, which had been stolen a few days before from Felsham, near Bury.

It was found abandoned in Bond Street, just a few hundred yards from the post office that neighbours a busy level crossing. The crossing was believed to have been down at the time of the raid, according to DI Chris Pryke, the detective leading the hunt for the robbers.

"We've had some excellent co-operation from various members of the public trying to piece together what happened last week. We're confident that we'll track the people responsible," he added.

Yesterday's questioning was a routine operation, he said, after officers had carried house to house enquiries in the area in the aftermath of the shocking crime.

Landlady Margaret Margaret Wisbey, who runs The Crown pub which stands opposite the post office, told how the community was still reeling from the incident.

"We can't believe it happened right on our doorstep," she said. "We weren't in when it happened and it was all over by the time we came back. But it is an awful thing to have happened. You just don't expect it."

Meanwhile, two men were continued to be questioned by police detectives today in connection with an armed robbery at the Co-op in Bramford Lane, Ipswich.

The men, who are aged 23 and 24 and come from Ipswich, were arrested on Thursday and taken to the town's police station for questioning.

The supermarket was robbed just after 8pm on Monday when a gang armed with a gun and a knife struck and threatened a member of staff before escaping with cash from the tills.

Anyone with information about the robberies should contact Ipswich police on 01473 383500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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