POLICE are hunting an armed robber who held up a post office.
A man walked into Whitburn Post Office with a gun, and demanded cash at about 11.30am yesterday.
Eyewitnesses said he pulled up to the branch, in narrow one-way street North Guards, in a black car – which was being driven by another man – before entering the building.
Police say he didn’t steal any cash but stole a mobile phone from a woman inside, before making his getaway in the car towards Cleadon Lane.
Armed police were scrambled to the quiet village and stood guard outside the Post Office, which was taped off for about two hours while detectives interviewed the two staff who were there, and a customer – who police say were shaken, but not injured. There were extra police patrols in Whitburn yesterday, and are now looking for witnesses to the robbery to come forward.
Chief Insp Michael Barton, of South Tyneside Area Command, said: “This was obviously distressing for those in the shop, but I’d like to reassure people that an active investigation is ongoing to trace the man involved.
“Officers are working to establish what happened, and I’d urge anyone with information to contact police as soon as possible.
“This is an unusual offence for this area and additional patrols are taking place in the area. Anyone with concerns should speak with a local officer.”
Local traders were shocked at a robbery happening in the usually sleepy village.
Sophie Dagg, who runs boutique La Belle Amie next door to the post office, said: “I was in the shop and heard cars outside.
“Curiosity got the better of me, and I went out to see what was happening. I didn’t see much, but apparently a black car screeched off down the road, almost knocking one lady over.
“It’s not something you expect to see happen round here. Hopefully it was a one-off.”
A friend Louise South, owner of Pawz and Clawz on the opposite side of the road, said: “The lads looked like teenagers, but it was hard to tell. It was over quickly. They probably know the area and thought it was a quiet street, but there’s quite a bit of traffic comes down here.
“They only got away with a mobile phone but that’s not the point – I hope the police catch them.”
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “An armed robbery in Whitburn? It’s not what you expect – we’re such a quiet village.
“This is extremely out of the ordinary.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.