HOODED thieves walked into a busy social club before leapfrogging over a bar and stealing cash in front of shocked drinkers.
Customers at the Royal Naval Association Social Club, in Roker Avenue, were left shaken as the brazen pair entered the lounge and made a grab for the money.
Finding the till locked, one used a screwdriver to try and prise the register open before taking the whole till with about £200 in “float” money.
The pair them ran off, back down the stairs and into Roker Avenue.
Today their actions have been described as shameful by Armed Forces representative Paul Jasper.
Police have today released CCTV of a man they believe could help with inquiries into the incident.
Although the club was not particularly busy at the time, there were a number of regulars who witnessed the theft.
One said: “When they couldn’t get the till open, they just decided to take the whole thing.
“They had their hoods pulled tightly around their faces and they were turning away from the cameras, so they knew exactly where they were.”
Signs in the social club windows warn would-be robbers that CCTV is in operation throughout the building.
The cameras picked up images of the men, one wearing an Adidas-style jacket and black gloves.
Armed forces representatives today condemned the theft as “shameful”.
Paul Jasper, organiser of Sunderland’s Armed Forces Day, said: “This is a disgrace.
“I hope those responsible for this realise that the men and women who were sitting, enjoying a drink, are the very people who have afforded them the freedom they have.
“To turn around and thank them by doing this is deeply shameful, they should be embarrassed.”
Now, detectives from Northumbria Police are appealing for anyone with information about the men to come forward.
Neighbour Geoff Martin, of Roker Avenue, said: “The club’s been there for years and it’s no bother, so it’s a bit of a surprise that something like this has happened.
“Apparently these two lads knew exactly where to go and made a bee-line for the till straight away, so it makes you think they must have been in the club before.”
A steward from the club today confirmed the incident had taken place on Saturday, January 5, although police have only just released details on the incident.
Anyone who recognises the men or with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101, extension 69191, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.