SHOP workers were held up at gunpoint and forced to hand over cash during a terrifying armed robbery.
A masked man burst into the Spar store, on Ryhope Road, Ashbrooke, pointed a gun at staff and demanded money.
A worker handed over a sum of cash before the robber fled the shop.
Staff working in the busy store, which is part of a garage, were shaken but unharmed.
Detectives today said the man was armed with a gun but they have been unable to confirm whether it was real or an imitation weapon. It was not used during the robbery.
The armed thug wore a balaclava during the robbery, which happened on Sunday at about 10.15pm, and he was about 6ft tall and of medium build.
Investigating officers are today appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.
They would particularly like to speak to a passer-by who was on a bike outside the store at the time who may be able to help with their inquiries.
Neighbourhood Inspector Neal Craig, who covers the area, said: “We would urge anyone who was in the area around the Spar shop between 10pm and 10.30pm to get in contact.
“We would particularly like to speak to a man who was passing on his bike and may be able to help us identify who is responsible.”
Last month, the Echo revealed there have been 101 armed robberies across Wearside in the last three years.
Raiders have used guns, knives, bottles and hammers to demand cash from city businesses and individuals.
According to the figures, a further 331 robberies without weapons took place across the city during the same time meaning on average there is a robbery on Wearside about every three days and an armed robbery about every 11 days.
Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to phone police on 03456 043 043 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.