By Anna Riley
A SHOP assistant needed hospital treatment after being hit over the head with a gun in an attempted armed robbery at a store in Ireland Wood – the latest in a series of attacks in north Leeds.
A masked man targeted Logan Stores in Otley Old Road at 8.25pm on Tuesday (November 29) and demanded cash before struggling with the male shop assistant and hitting him with what appeared to be a handgun. He was released from hospital after being treated for his injuries.
West Yorkshire Police are also investigating a robbery at a store in Otley at 8.50pm on the same night when a shop assistant was left beaten, scratched and bruised by masked men.
The thugs stole money, cigarettes and bottles of spirits from Cottage Stores in Newall Carr Road before fleeing the scene.
Two further incidents occurred on Saturday 26 November. The first happened around 4.30pm at McColls on Broadgate Lane in Horsforth, where three masked men wielding knives threatened staff at the till. Two of the thieves them went behind the counter and stole cash and cigarettes.
R and S Newsagents in Raynel Approach, Ireland Wood, was also robbed shortly before 8pm.
Mr Prass Patel, 49, store manager at R and S Newsagents, said: “Two youngish looking men in masks and wearing gloves came in to the store and threatened one of my female members of staff whilst she was alone in the shop.
“One of the lads was holding what looked like a large stick and the other had a knife that they threatened her with – she was petrified. They wanted money and made off with booze and cigarettes.
“I have been running the store for over three years and nothing like this has happened before – it is normally a fantastic area.
“We are still open as usual but some customers are understandably scared.”
Mr Patel said a lack of street lights outside his shop was not helping.
“We have had to take a hit on trading and close an hour early as there is no lighting outside our store which puts people off coming in when it is dark, even more so after the incident.
“The council have been contacted again about replacing the light and we have been asking for over a year, but it still has not been fixed. If I didn’t pay my rent on the shop though, they would soon be round,” he added.
On Wednesday, November 25, Paddy’s News and Booze in Tinshill Lane, Tinshill, was also robbed. Two masked men armed with a knife and a meat cleaver ransacked the store at around 6pm. The pair threatened staff before taking alcohol and money from the till.
Detective Inspector Neil Thompson, who heads Leeds District Crime Team, said: “We are currently carrying out extensive enquiries into these robberies which have clearly been frightening experiences for the members of staff involved.
“We are looking into whether there are any links between the incidents and would like to hear from anyone who has any information that could assist our investigations.”
Superintendent Sam Millar heads Safer Leeds, a Leeds City Council organisation that works with the police and other agencies to tackle issues that impact local communities. He said: “The work undertaken by Safer Leeds has already seen significant reductions in burglary offences, increased enforcement for noise nuisance issues and rising satisfaction levels for victims of anti-social behaviour. We are committed to continuing this work to make Leeds a safer place to live, work and visit.”
West Yorkshire Police crime figures show that there were 704 robberies in the Leeds District between June 2014 and May 2015.
The Office of National Statistics also lists 29,306 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument nationwide, a 9% increase compared with the previous year.
A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack at McColls on Broadgate Lane in Horsforth and is currently on police bail pending further enquiries.
Anyone who witnessed the robberies or who has any information that could assist the investigation in is asked to contact Leeds District Crime Team via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.