A MASKED man wielding a machete stole cash in a terrifying armed robbery at a Chester convenience store.
Police launched a manhunt immediately after the lunchtime raid on The Co-operative Food store in Walker Street, Hoole, yesterday.
Customers and store assistants were left in shock after a balaclava-clad man went into the shop armed with a machete shortly after 1pm and ordered the male assistant behind the till to give him money. He was handed an unknown amount of money before fleeing.
Police were quickly on the scene, with the police helicopter hovering above as officers carried out a wide-ranging search for the robber across the surrounding area. But this proved unsuccessful and the man remains at large.
Forensic officers gathered evidence inside the store and police sniffer dogs were also used in the area surrounding the premises.
The shop assistant who was confronted by the robber asked not to be named but told the Leader he was in shock.
He said: “I was serving and the next minute there was a man with a balaclava and a machete.
“He asked me to hand over the money so I did. I had to. I handed over a bag of money.”
Reflecting on the impact of his ordeal, he said:“I am looking over my shoulder every five minutes expecting someone to be there.”
Fortunately, no one hunt was hurt during the raid.
One shopper, who asked not be named, said: “I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing when I was told that someone had walked in to the Co-op with a machete – in the middle of the day as well. What a thing to happen!
“I believe that he [the robber] was in and out quickly and ran away on foot and that is why the police helicopter was brought out.”
Later in the afternoon armed police surrounded a block of city centre flats as the search for the robber widened.
Officers wearing body armour and armed with guns were seen outside a second floor flat near to St Anne Street, Newtown, but police confirmed the property was empty.
Cheshire Police spokesman Rachel Hayes said: “At 1.09pm on Tuesday, October 15, police received a report of an armed robbery at a shop in Walker Street, Hoole.
“A man entered the Co-op with a machete and demanded money. He then made off with an unknown amount of cash.
“Police made an extensive search of the area and the police helicopter was also in attendance.”
Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 377 of October 15.
Alternatively, information can be given anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.