Police are hunting a 'gunman' who threatened staff at a Sunderland store before making off with a lottery machine.
Officers were called at 9.10am this morning to J&H Local, in Tempest Street, Silksworth, after reports of an armed robbery.
A man in possession of a handgun went into the store and threatened staff before stealing a lottery machine.
Police say it is not yet known whether the gun was real or imitation.
No-one was injured, but those in the store were left shaken by the incident.
The lottery machine has since been located in Londonderry Street.
Extra officers are in the area both to carry out inquiries and offer reassurance.
A search is underway to locate the robber who is described as approximately 5ft 6 inches tall and wearing a dark blue balaclava, black padded hooded jacket, blue latex gloves, tracksuit bottoms and grey/black shoes.
Police say they are also investigating a second incident where a man approached a group of youths with a 'handgun' and they say a connection between the two 'can't be ruled out.'
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: "At 6.30pm last night police were informed a man had approached a group of youths in Norman Avenue with what was reported to be a handgun, although it is not known if it was real or imitation.
"No-one was injured.
"There is currently nothing to suggest it is linked to the robbery this morning, however, inquiries are being carried out to establish the full circumstances of the incident and this can’t be ruled out."
Any witnesses are asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 quoting reference 183 140218 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.