Two armed robberies in less than 12 hours in the Wetherby area

Thomas Cook on West Gate, Wetherby. (1406036AM)
Thomas Cook on West Gate, Wetherby. (1406036AM)

Armed men carried out two robberies at knifepoint in the space of less than 12 hours, and the police are appealing for information.

A 57-year-old woman was allegedly robbed after a masked gang armed with knives forced their way into her home on Forge Lane, Wike, at around 10.45pm on Thursday, May 29.

Hours later, at around 9.30am, a man went into Thomas Cook on West Gate in Wetherby town centre and allegedly produced a knife before making demands of the staff and fleeing the scene with foreign currency.

Though at this stage there is no suggestion of a connection between the two armed robberies, the police are remaining open-minded and said they would appreciate any help with their ongoing enquiries into both crimes.

Thomas Cook confirmed after the robbery on Friday May 30 that no customers were in the store at the time and only a small amount of money was taken due to the safe’s time delay system and the minimal funds on site.

A spokesman said that, though staff have strict training including advice on how to act should an isolated incident such as a robbery occur, no-one can prepare for how it will affect those involved.

“The safety of our staff and our customers is always our priority,” he said.

“The staff in our Wetherby store at the time of this incident were safe and unharmed, though understandably shaken by their experience.

“Thankfully, incidents like this are rare and we will ensure that those impacted receive the support and counselling they need.

“The police have launched an immediate investigation and we are co-operating fully with them as they pursue their inquiries.”

The man the police are looking for in connection with this robbery is described as white, about 6 foot tall, of slim build, wearing a black waist-length jacket with a black hood that was up and a black scarf covering his face.

Thomas Cook gave the police CCTV footage following the robbery but Det Con Tim Lewis of Leeds District CID said: “We would urge anyone who witnessed any part of this incident or saw someone acting suspiciously in the area around the time of this offence to call Leeds District CID on 101.”

At the incident on Forge Lane the previous day – less than 12 hours before – three men with their faces covered and wearing dark clothes pushed passed a woman as she opened the door to her home.

She was restrained at knifepoint and the gang demanded jewellery and the keys to the white Audi TT parked on the drive.

Leaving the woman restrained in her house, they stole the vehicle and it was later found locked and unattended in Shadwell.

Det Con Dean Hopley said after the armed robbery: “I would stress that incidents of this nature are extremely rare.

“Thankfully the victim wasn’t physically harmed but it is important that the persons responsible are caught as quickly as possible.

“As part of our ongoing enquiries, we are keen to hear from anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area around the time of this offence or who saw a white Audi TT being driven away.

“It is believed that the offenders may have also been using a black Seat Leon and we would also urge anyone who believes they saw this vehicle, particularly in convoy with a white Audi TT, to make contact.”

Any information on either robbery should be passed to Leeds District CID on 101 or to the independent charity Crimestoppers who can be reached anonymously on 0800 555 111.