A MAN stole cash and cigarettes after threatening a shop assistant with a knife in the latest raid on a Martin’s newsagent in Basildon.
Police are already investigating a string of nine similar raids in the past eight months – two of them at the Martin’s branch which was hit on Friday.
Detectives have said they don’t think the latest robbery is connected to the others, but staff in neighbouring businesses say they fear they might also be targeted.
A man burst into Martin’s Laindon Centre branch just after 7.30am on Friday and threatened the, man behind the counter with a knife. He was forced to hand over a three-figure sum, plus cigarettes.
The shop assistant was said to have been shaken, but unhurt.
No one else was in the shop at the time, and detectives have appealed for passers-by and anyone else with information to get in touch.
Det Con Phil McCorkell, said: “We’re really focusing our appeal on people who would have been walking past the Laindon Centre and who saw the thief running away from the scene. He would have stood out among the crowd.”
The robber was white, about 5ft 9ins tall and wore sunglasses and dark clothing.
Lewis Day, whoworks nearby at the Fish’n’Chick’n chip shop, said: “The area was taped off while police investigated the crime scene. I’m not really shocked any more, because there have been a few of these robberies now and a fewrobberies at other shops in the Laindon centre. It is worrying. I worry for my shop and the safety of my staff. You just wonder, are we going to be next?”
Anyone with information about the road should call detectives at Basildon police station on 101, or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
THE PLACES ROBBERS HAVE STRUCK...
THE series of robberies on Martin’s newsagents in Basildon, started last December. Several, including at the same Laindon Centre branch – have been linked by Basildon detectives, though they are not connecting them to Friday’s incident.
The other raids were:
- Friday, November 22 – at the Laindon Centre Martin’s
- Friday, December 13 – branches in Clayhill Road and Ballards Walk, Basildon, plus the Laindon Centre branch again, all robbed within the space of just over an hour
- Wednesday, December 11 – the Ballards Walk branch robbed again
- February 1 – a robber with his face masked by a pair of tights threatened staff at sister shop McColl’s in the Triangle Shopping Centre, Laindon and took £170 from the till
- Wednesday, February 12 – a masked man burst into the Whitmore Way Martin’s at about 2.30pm, pushed the assistant out of the way, and grabbed £120 from the till
- February 15 – another robbery at the Whitmore Way branch. A man produced a knife and took £200 from the till
- June 8 – two people held up the Clayhill Road branch and took £50 from the till.
COMPANY WON'T COMMENT
THE Echo contacted the Martin’s head office to ask what the company was doing to protect staff and customers, but it declined to comment or answer our questions.
- What is Martins doing to protect its staff?
- Are staff receiving training on how to deal with robberies?
- What advice are they being given when faced with an armed robber?
- Are staff receiving training on how to defend themselves?
- Is there anything you can say to reassure customers/nearby businesses?