Terrified workers were shut in a storeroom as robbers struck in the latest raid on shops in the Midlands, prompting fears that a new gang is targeting convenience stores in the region.
During the latest raid, three men went into the Co-operative store in Wolverhampton Road, Penkridge, in the early morning attack, one armed with a hammer.
One worker aged in his 20s suffered a facial injury when he fell over during the robbery and had to be treated by paramedics.
Police believe it could be linked to other convenience store raids which have taken place in the past week. Hammer-wielding robbers terrorised female staff at Spar in Wordsley Green on Tuesday, while Spar in Wombourne was also targeted on Saturday morning.
Staff were locked in a toilet while masked raiders armed with a lump hammer stole cash and cigarettes.
Earlier this month, three men armed with an axe struck at Tesco Express in Bilbrook Road, Bilbrook. Sarah Davison, spokeswoman for Staffordshire Police, said forensic tests had been carried out at the scene of the latest raid.
“As part of their inquiries, detectives are examining the possibility this incident is linked to other similar crimes in south Staffordshire the West Midlands region,” she said.
The Penkridge raid happened at around 5.30am yesterday. The offenders were white, 5ft 6 to 5ft 8ins and believed to be in their mid 30s.
Rob Padmore, store manager at The Co-op, said it was now business as usual.
“We were closed for a couple of hours. Everyone is OK,” he said.
Repairs were being carried out to doors at the shop yesterday while police said patrols had been stepped up in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to call officers on 101.
Several people have already been jailed following a series of raids at convenience stores across south Staffordshire and the Black Country last year. A gang struck 22 times during a four-month crime spree.
Four men were jailed after admitting being variously involved in eight of these.