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East Belfast shop owner says same man raided store twice in two days

By Sara Neill

Published 17/06/2015

Shopkeeper: Tom Dawson
Shopkeeper: Tom Dawson

A shopkeeper has hit out at the man he believes robbed his east Belfast store twice in two days, describing the culprit as a coward.

The robber - armed with a hammer - targeted Dawson's newsagency on the Belmont Road at 9.30am on Sunday.

He threatened the teenage girl behind the counter, before making off with cash and fleeing on a bike towards the Strand Cinema.

Just over 24 hours later, the thief went behind the counter at the shop, and banged on the cash register, shouting at owner Tom Dawson's 17-year-old daughter to open the till during the theft on Monday afternoon.

Mr Dawson has run the popular store, where fans can buy their Glentoran FC tickets, for almost 20 years. He believes the same man carried out both attacks.

Mr Dawson said: "The bad thing is what he put those two girls through, they're both 17. The girl who was working on Sunday had only been here for two weeks, it was her third or fourth shift.

"With my daughter, the initial shock was bad, but once we got her home on Monday night she bounced back. But we just don't know if there's any lasting trauma.

"I hope that she's going to be OK. But he's not much of a man, because he wouldn't come in and do that to me. He's a coward."

A small amount of cash was taken during each robbery, and Mr Dawson said the incidents will have a negative effect on his business.

He explained: "Things are tight enough in this game, and to be robbed twice? Well, it's another nail in the coffin."

Police think the perpetrator may have been lurking outside the store before he struck on Monday.

The PSNI appealed for anyone who was in the Belmont Road area on Sunday morning or Monday afternoon to get in touch.

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