Two stores raided by 'armed' man

A MAJOR police hunt was underway today after a robber raided two Suffolk stores in the space of 30 minutes – possibly while armed with a handgun.The hooded man, who made staff believe he had a pistol, struck at Costcutters in Stoke Park Drive, Ipswich, yesterday at 9.

DETECTIVES are today hunting a hooded robber who held up two Ipswich stores.

Police launched a major manhunt after the raider, who may have been carrying a handgun, yesterday held up two late-night stores within the space of 20 minutes.

The robber struck just before closing time at Costcutters in Stoke Park Drive. About 20 minutes later he struck at the Co-op Food Store in nearby Sheldrake Drive.

Both stores opened as usual today.

Miriam Harrup, a spokeswoman for the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op, said: "Thankfully nobody was injured and only a very moderate sum of money was taken. We had three members of staff on duty and all three acted commendably. We would like to thank them for following procedures."

Nobody from Costcutters would comment on the incident today.

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The raider escaped with an undisclosed amount of money from both stores, which are within two miles of each other on the Stoke Park and Chantry estates.

A police spokeswoman said today: "We are linking the two robberies last night and are also looking into the possibility that they may be linked to other robberies in the area."

The first incident happened at around 9.30pm when the raider burst into the Costcutters store and demanded cash from the till before escaping on foot.

Police said there was no report of a weapon being used at this incident, but staff at the Co-op on the Chantry estate were led to believe the man had a gun.

They told investigating officers the man entered the store at about 9.50pm and held a metal object, which could have been a pistol, in his pocket as he ordered them to hand over cash.

Police were last night searching the area for clues and the force's helicopter was used in the hunt for the offender.

He was described as white, between 5ft 9in and 6ft and believed to be in his 20s or 30s. He wore a dark, hooded sweatshirt and the lower part of his face was covered with a dark scarf.

Anyone with information should call Dc Dave Dulake at Ipswich CID on 01473 383133 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Detectives are linking yesterday's raids to a hold-up at Bixley off-licence in Bixley Road, Ipswich, last week.

These three incidents follow raids last month when a single armed robber held up the Thresher Wine Shop in Bramford Road, Ipswich and the Co-op store in Ulster Avenue on December 20 at gunpoint.

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