A caution has been issued to business owners in Lurgan, following two incidents in recent days.
The Mace on Victoria Street was the target of an armed robbery on Monday night, while Wray Cleaners, located on Union Street, was broken into in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Staff at the convenience store were subjected to threats from an armed robber on Monday night, when the man entered the Mace at around 8pm. Police reports state that the man had his hood up and his face covered with a scarf, and had a firearm in his possession.
“He threatened and demanded money from two shop assistants,” a statement read.
“He made off with a sum of cash on foot into Victoria Place towards Brownlow Terrace. The man is described as being around 6ft tall, of slim build with a swarthy complexion. He was wearing a green waterproof raincoat.”
Meanwhile, staff at Wray Cleaners arrived at the cleaning business on Saturday morning to find that the safe had been stolen.
“We have a metal gate at the front of the shop - they pulled the padlock off and kicked in a panel on the door,” explained a staff member at Wray Cleaners.
“They took the safe. It’s quite heavy - I don’t know how they managed to carry it out.”
The burglars left the store relatively undisturbed, but staff have been left wondering how the perpetrators managed to lift the safe out: “The business is on Union Street - you would think they couldn’t have just walked down the street with a safe without being noticed. It definitely would have taken a few people to carry it.”
DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart called on all local businesses to be wary of thieves operating in the area:
“I believe the PSNI need to divert more resources to tackling theft and the community needs to be more vigilant and report anything suspicious. Given the number of businesses that have been targeted, I believe there needs to be an increase in security cameras in the town centre and that they need monitored on a more regular basis. Local businesses are the lifeblood of our town centre and activity like this does nothing to encourage new businesses to come to our town centre.”
SDLP Councillor Declan McAlinden spoke out against Monday’s armed robbery, noting its proximity to the location of the explosion on Saturday.
“I condemn the latest incident in Victoria Street, Lurgan where the owner of a local Mace shop was robbed at gunpoint. This comes after a weekend when his shop was affected by the bomb alert and at a time when businesses are struggling. The owner said his member of staff was left very shaken and scared by the whole incident and in 25 years trading this was the first such incident.
“I urge all shop owners and businesses to make sure their CCTV and security is all up to date and report any suspicious activity to the PSNI.”
Sinn Féin Counsellor Catherine Seeley reiterated the urgency with which people should contact the police in such incidents, adding:
“Those responsible should consider the risk and harm they are doing to themselves, to local business and to the staff and customers of this area.”
Police are appealing for information on both incidents, and can be contacted in Lurgan on 101.