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Shopkeepers tell of gun raid horror
Gun-wielding robbers in a stolen Mercedes raided five newsagents yesterday during a 100-minute crime spree.
Shops were targeted in Hove, Brighton, Portslade, Patcham and Rottingdean between 11pm on Tuesday and 12.40am yesterday (Wed).
The thieves, in a silver car which had been taken hours earlier from Lucraft Road, Moulsecoomb, Brighton, used crowbars to smash through glass, bend back locks and pull off door handles.
Witnesses described guns being used in two of the raids.
Abraham Eissa, 26, who runs a newsagents' in Mill Lane, Portslade, woke up shortly before 11.20pm to hear two loud bangs.
He sleeps above his shop, called Abraam, and said he was shocked. Speaking yesterday, Mr Eissa said: “I was sleeping when I heard a bang and suddenly a much louder bang.
“I saw a guy running from my shop towards a Mercedes parked nearby. He seemed to be carrying something.
“When I got downstairs I saw about two lots of cigarettes worth between £4,000 and £5,000 had been stolen and coins worth about £300.
“The police came to see me and they said other places had been targeted. It's lucky no one was hurt.”
He showed The Argus empty cigarette trays and a bent back door.
Safegate News in Hangleton Way, Hove, was also targeted shortly after 11pm.
Neil Patel, whose father runs the shop, said the thieves took cigarettes. He too showed trays of empty cigarettes, although he did not know their worth.
On this occasion the thieves had smashed the door in, shattering glass.
Mr Patel, 25, said: “We were at home and not in the shop and we got a call from the police. It's the first time we have been targeted.
“It was a few guys. We had CCTV and we have given that to the police.”
Vishnu Patel, 49, who runs a newsagents in Old London Road, Patcham, was woken up at 11.45pm to his son Aadid, 13, telling him there was a noise outside.
When the pair looked out they could see three men with a Travis Perkins bag attempting to access the front door of the shop.
Mr Patel said: “They tried for about two minutes and used a crowbar to force the door but couldn't get in.
“I wanted to throw the TV at them but my son wouldn't let me. The police said this was a good thing.”
Shops in West Street, Rottingdean, were targeted at 12.30am and Sutherland Road, near Brighton Racecourse, at 12.40am.
The Mercedes was found abandoned in Nesbitt Road, near Coombe Road, shortly afterwards and a police helicopter and dog unit found a man and boy hiding in a bush close by in Eastbourne Road. But police are hunting two other men.
Detective Inspector Clare Shiel (COR) said: "This was an incredibly concentrated and focused series of raids and it's quite possible that those involved would have visited the shops in advance.”
A 22-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy from Brighton were arrested on suspicion of burglary and were in custody yesterday.
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