Thug holds up staff at knifepoint

FIND HIM BEFORE HE KILLS SOMEONE

By Francesca Ryan

C OPS are in a desperate race to identify and arrest this crazed robber before his repeated knifepoint raids on a local pharmacy in search of drugs ends in bloodshed.

Twice in the space of a a fortnight the robber has threatened  staff with a large  knife  and demanded a named morphine-type drug ordinarily used as a powerful pain reliever but coveted by drug addicts for its euphoric effects. The first incident at Laurelglen Pharmacy, off the Stewartstown Road, happened two weeks ago when the man, armed with a sharp knife, made off with drugs, as pharmacist Brendan Anglin explained.

“The first time this man came in was at lunchtime a fortnight ago and he was armed with a large knife,” he said.  “We believe he had waited outside until it was quiet as we could see him on CCTV.  When he came in, he threatened staff with a large knife and demanded the drug by name. There were three members of staff on that day, they handed over the drugs and he left.”

Brendan decided to take extra precautions in a bid to prevent a similar incident taking place, but he did not expect the same man to return in a repeat performance of the initial raid.

“We got time locks installed full-time on the safes and kept the medication inside. Although it may be an inconvenience to customers, it was imperative for everyone’s safety,” he said.  “We thought after the first robbery that that would be it, but last Friday afternoon, he turned up again, this time with a different knife.

“The shop was packed with half a dozen staff and about six customers, but he didn’t care.  He demanded the same drug, when staff told him about the time lock, he just kept shouting for them to open the safe. After a while he took their word for it and left.”

Both times the man, thought to be aged in his 20s, left on foot in the direction of Glasvey and so may be local. “It’s very unusual for a robber to walk into a shop full of people during the day and to barely conceal his identity,” said Brendan.

The PSNI have carried out a forensic sweep of the pharmacy for evidence that could lead to the robber’s capture.

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