A balaclava-clad thug left shop workers shaken after threatening them with a knife.

Robber David Tree terrorised staff at Co-op stores in Burgess Hill in a spate of incidents.

During robberies in June and July 2022, the 31-year-old wore a mask or balaclava before demanding money from staff.

Thug David Tree has been jailedThug David Tree has been jailed (Image: Sussex Police)

Sussex Police traced his vehicle and he was arrested.

Following an investigation by Crawley CID officers, Tree was charged.

He appeared for sentencing at Lewes Crown Court on June 6 after he admitted two counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, three counts of possessing a bladed article and one count of going equipped for theft.

Tree of Golden Hill, Burgess Hill, was sentenced to a total of three years and nine months in prison.

The court was told how the first offence happened at a Co-op store in Terracotta Lane on June 19, 2022.

A staff member reported a masked man entering the store to demand money from the safe just before the place was due to close.

On July 12, Tree returned to the same store and left with cash by a fire exit after making more threats with a knife.

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Then on July 16, he targeted a Co-op store in Junction Road while wearing a balaclava as it was due to open. He showed a knife but left the scene when he was not able to gain access.

On July 25, he returned to the shop and was seen with the knife by staff.

Once again Tree was not able to get into the shop and was seen leaving the area in a vehicle which was then traced by police.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Garman said: “David Tree carried out a short series of robberies and attempted robberies on Co-op stores in Burgess Hill.

“Tree had no choice but to plead guilty when confronted with all the evidence.

“I would like to thank the staff members and witnesses who supported the investigation.

“It is not acceptable for shop workers to fear for their own safety because of thefts and violence.

“We are pleased that a dangerous offender has been taken off our streets.”