JUST two men are thought responsible for a reign of armed robbery terror across the borough.
The pair, acting independently, were today linked by Wigan detectives to at least nine raids on shops and fast food restaurants in the last six months.
CCTV stills of the two men suspected of these robberies have now been released and police are appealing to anyone who recognises either of the offenders to come forward.
Officers believe a robbery at the Weekender Off-Licence on Chapel Street, Leigh, on November 3, and one at the Costcutters on Bolton Road in Atherton three days later are the work of the same man.
During the first robbery, a man wearing a scarf around his face went into the off-licence at about 5.30pm brandishing a hammer.
He threatened the woman working behind the counter and stole cash.
The Costcutters robbery on November 6 took place just after 7pm and, again, a man wearing a scarf around his face produced a claw hammer and threatened a woman working on the tills before stealing cash.
The other seven robberies, which police suspect another sole man is responsible for, took place at the Cost Less store on Wigan Road on November 5, the McDonald’s fast food restaurant on Tyldesley Road in Atherton on both November 15 and December 3, the KFC at Leigh’s Parsonage retail park on November 23, the McDonald’s in Stone Cross, Lowton, on December 13 and lastly at the Westleigh Post Office on both September 21 and December5.
On each occasion, the man walked up to the counter armed with either a claw hammer or a knife and threatened the staff before stealing cash. In total, more than £4,000 was stolen.
DC Susan O’Connell said: “Over a four-month span, there have been nine robberies all with a very similar modus operandi that we suspect is the work of two different criminals.
“However, we could not rule out others may be involved or that it might in fact be the work of just one man.
“What we can say with certainty is that these sorts of criminals have caused a lot of unrest and anxiety among the business community within Wigan by committing robberies underpinned by threats of violence.
“For most people, being threatened with a weapon in their place of work is not something they ever have to consider, so it is completely unfair for shopkeepers and staff to face this sort of violence.
“This should not be an occupational hazard and the best way to prevent these sorts of robberies and protect innocent shopworkers is to find the people responsible and put them behind bars.
“I would therefore appeal to anyone who either recognises the two offenders or who perhaps has information about any of the robberies themselves. If you do know something, then please speak to us, if confidence if needed.”
Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 7252 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.