Shop staff on crime front line

SUFFOLK: Shop workers are finding themselves on the front line in a spate of robberies.

The threat to convenience store workers and post office staff has been laid bare once again following a robbery in Ipswich.

Mandeep Brar, of Britannia Road, was arrested on Wednesday and charged following the incident at the Spar shop in Woodbridge Road on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday and has been remanded in custody to appear at Ipswich Crown Court on September 7.

It is alleged that a knife-wielding robber stole �250 from the convenience store, located near to Schreiber Road, at around 10.25pm.

It is the latest in a long line of raids up and down Suffolk in recent months, including:

n an armed robbery at Underwoods News Agent in Felixstowe in May

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n a raid at the Capel St Mary post office in May – the third time the in less than a year

n a raid at Selkirk Road Post Office in Ipswich in February

n an alleged robbery at Blockbuster in Woodbridge Road on May 20

n a knife-point raid at the One Stop store in Cambridge Drive, Ipswich in May

n an armed robbery at P&G Stores in Orford Street in Ipswich on March 15 in which a member of staff was shot in the face with a BB gun.

Sampath Kahatapitiya, the owner of P&G Stores, targeted in March, said the raid on his business had come as a huge shock.

“This is the first time anything like this has ever happened. We don’t even have problems with shoplifters here,” he said.

“It has really shocked us all. It is only a small business and it has affected all of us.

“All of our local customers have been really shocked by what’s happened. It has rocked everyone.”

Police have reiterated their pledge to crack down on raids at businesses.

A force spokesman said: “Robberies against any commercial premises do have a significant effect both on the staff involved and on the business community, but this can be amplified when the target is a small local business.

“These shops are a key part of local communities and Suffolk police are committed to robustly investigating these offences and bringing those responsible to justice.”

n Are you concerned by the spate of robberies in recent months? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 11AN or e-mail

n If you can help police with their inquiries, contact Dc Andrew Moore at Ipswich CID on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.