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Gunmen strike twice in one night

PUBLISHED: 12:29 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 07 September 2010

Susanna Wilkey VICIOUS armed robbers struck twice in one night, attacking staff at a grocer in West Hampstead and a massage parlour in Kentish Town. With chilling similarities to the armed raid on a post office in Worcestershire last week when one shopkee

Susanna Wilkey

VICIOUS armed robbers struck twice in one night, attacking staff at a grocer in West Hampstead and a massage parlour in Kentish Town.

With chilling similarities to the armed raid on a post office in Worcestershire last week when one shopkeeper was shot dead, two teenagers strolled into the store in Maygrove Road and brandished a gun and a knife at the shopkeeper and his friend.

A third teenager stood menacingly with a metal bar guarding the door of the Maygrove Superstore in West Hampstead on Sunday night.

The youngsters demanded money before one of them battered the friend, 37, over the head with the butt of the knife.

He made a dash for the back of the store where the shopkeeper, 49, was checking stock and they both tried to hold the stockroom door closed to prevent the armed attackers following them.

But he was dragged out and hit again before the teenagers escaped with cash, £70 of cigarettes, £100 of alcohol and a mobile phone.

Manager of the store Krishna Thasan said: "They were very shaken up afterwards and the friend was injured and had to go to the Royal Free Hospital. He had two big cuts which needed stitches and they are both recovering at home now.

"This has never happened before and I have been here 20 years. It is very worrying - these are not pickpockets, they are very aggressive and it is very scary and it happened at 6.30pm.

"The robbers were very violent which is worrying because this is getting worse. Normally we just get kids who steal chocolate bars and things, but this is very aggressive and violent."

Despite last year having installed CCTV and panic alarms after a spate of violent robberies in Hampstead and across London, the grocer was still targeted.

Mr Thasan added: "They were only in the shop for two and a half minutes. We did worry that it would happen and now it has and it is frightening because someone could get really hurt. I don't think this is because of the credit crunch, I think it is teenagers doing it for drugs like crack but they are getting more and more aggressive."

Less than 10 hours later, around 4am on Monday, three armed men targeted the Omega sauna and mas-sage premises on Kentish Town Road, echoing a similar attack on a massage parlour in Crouch End last week.

One had a gun and another a knife, and they walked into the parlour threatening staff and demanding money.

The men escaped with a wad of cash and, although uninjured, staff were left badly shaken up.

Anyone with information about the armed raids should contact the Flying Squad on 020-8358 1751 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The three suspects from the West Hampstead raid are black and aged between 16 and 20. The one wielding a knife is described as 5ft6ins and slim, and the gunman is 5ft10ins with a slim face and wearing a brown jacket. The third was 5ft11ins, of slight build, with Afro hair and wearing a navy hooded top. Police were unable to issue descriptions of the Kentish Town armed raiders.


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