Cigarettes, cash and charity money taken in audacious raid
A gunman hid behind the counter of a petrol station and forced a staff member to serve an unwitting customer during a robbery in Co Antrim.
The staff member was later tied up and left to free himself in the incident at the Crankill Road service station in Ballymena.
Police don't believe the woman customer was aware of what was going on at the time and have appealed for her to contact detectives as she may hold key information for their investigation.
The man entered the shop at around 2.15am before producing his handgun. Three other men then joined him all dressed in dark clothes, wearing ski masks and gloves.
“At one point, the gunman hid behind the till and instructed the staff member to serve a female customer," Detective Sergeant Peter Crothers said.
"He then produced clear plastic bin bags and instructed the employee to fill them with cigarettes. He also took a sum of cash and the contents of a charity box.
“The staff member was then tied up with his own belt and a length of wire to a drinks’ machine. The employee managed to free himself after a period of time and raise the alarm.
“I am appealing to anyone who was in the Crankill road area this morning between 2.15am and 3.15am and saw any suspicious activity to get in touch with police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 142 of 9/11/18.
“We would also like to speak to the female customer who unwittingly entered the premises during the incident. Whilst we do not believe she was connected in any way to the robbery, she may have information that could help with our investigation into what took place.”
Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.