Staff at a bookies were threatened by a robber wearing a balaclava and hi-vis jacket before he snatched cash and ran.
At around 8.40am this morning police received a report of a robbery at the Betfred bookmakers on The Green in Southwick.
Police say the offender went in to the store and threatened staff before making off with a quantity of cash.
They added the man responsible for the robbery is described as white and with a local accent. He was wearing a balaclava, gloves, a high-visibility yellow jacket which was down to his knees and had a hood, dark trousers and dark footwear.
Police want to hear from anyone who may have seen this man in what is a very busy area of Sunderland.
A spokesman for Betfred said: “The security of our staff and customers is paramount and we are working with the police on their inquiries.”
Just before the incident, Premier convenience store shop assistant Callum Gray said he saw a man in the area matching the police description.
The 20-year-old from Pallion said: “I was outside having a cigarette on my break when I saw a man wearing a high-vis jacked and balaclava walking past the store around 8.30am.
“He had his jacket hood up and his face covered as he walked past.
“He crossed over the road and I thought nothing of it at the time, I just thought he was on his way to work.
“But then at 8.50am the police came into the shop asking whether we had made the call saying there had been a theft and I said no, what happened, and they told me.”
Callum said officers then looked at the store’s CCTV footage.
He added: “I have been here a year now and in that time we have had shoplifters, but never had anything like this.
“But it is not going to make me worried about going to work.”
Other residents called the incident ‘disgraceful.’ One said: “You just don’t expect it.”
Anyone with information should contact Northumbria Police on 101 quoting reference 190 08/05/17 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.