STAFF and customers from a village store were recovering yesterday after armed and masked raiders staged a terrifying raid.
The gang of four burst into the Spar store in Wolsingham, Weardale, County Durham, shortly before 8pm on New Year’s Day.
Only two members of staff and three customers were in the store at the time.
Three of the gang were carrying weapons and threatened the staff, a woman, 49, and a man, 21, with a knife, a baseball bat and an axe.
They put their hands into the till and stole what is believed to have been a substantial amount of cash.
The store was one of the few in the area to have remained open on Tuesday, a Bank Holiday. Yesterday it had opened again for business as usual, although the two staff members were off work.
Detective Sergeant Darren Phillips from Durham Police said: “Fortunately no one was injured during the robbery. However, this was an extremely distressing incident for the staff and customers who were in the store at the time, and it has left them very shaken.
“The suspects were wearing balaclavas and are believed to be aged in their late teens.
“We believe they fled the scene in a silver car, which headed from Wolsingham in the Tow Law direction.
“I would ask anyone who saw anything that might assist our enquiries to contact Crook CID on 101.”
Durham county councillor John Shuttleworth described the robbery as “very shocking indeed”.
He said: “My thoughts are with the staff and customers inside who must have been terrified by such an ordeal. I hope the police catch those responsible without delay. In these times of economic hardship I also hope such incidents are not going to become more commonplace, because this is very unusual for Weardale.
“The staff at the Spar work long hours and for a shocking incident like this to take place on the first day of 2013 must be very traumatic for them, and for their colleagues who opened up today.”