Shopkeeper is ‘appalled’ at assault on worker during robbery – and criticises police response

THE owner of a convenience store in Coalpit Heath has criticised the police response after £400 was stolen and a member of staff assaulted.

Edwina Pennell, who owns the Budgens store on Woodend Road, says officers didn’t attend the incident despite her calling following the robbery. Instead, she was told to log the incident online.

She said: “What horrified us more than anything was that obviously we rang the police, because I got down there within 15 minutes, and we were told that we could only report it online. 

“It’s the first time in 35 years we’ve ever had anything like this happen. 

“We couldn’t even talk to a policeman or anybody.”

The attack happened at 8.30pm on February 20, when a man wearing a motorbike helmet (pictured above) came into the store.

He appeared to pay for an item, but when the till was open, he reached over and grabbed cash. 

Teenage worker punched by robber

An 18-year-old shop worker tried to stop him but was punched in the chest. 

Another member of staff ran after the man, but he had an accomplice waiting at the side of the shop and they made off on a scooter.

Ms Pennell says the robbery and attack have left her very angry.

She said: “I’m appalled really, especially as it was a very young member of staff.

“It’s really shaken him up and upset him, because you just don’t expect that to happen in Frampton Cotterell at 8 o’clock at night.”

Extra precautions have now been taken, including guards on the tills and a ban on people entering the shop wearing helmets.  

Police – why we didn’t send officers straight away

A police spokesperson told the Voice: “When operational demand is high, we prioritise attendance at incidents in which there is reported violence or a suspect has been detained.

“Because of the time between the incident taking place and the report being made, and no injuries having been reported, the risk to the public was deemed lower.

“We fully appreciate the concern these incidents can cause, and officers have spoken with the victims, who continue to be updated as the investigation progresses.

“Our neighbourhood team is committed to working proactively with businesses to provide them with support and crime prevention advice, particularly where shop staff or customers have been threatened.” 

Ms Pennell said she was having to deal with an increase in crime at the shop, with “a lot of shoplifting”.

Appeal for information

Police released a picture of the suspect in April, along with an appeal for information from the public.

A spokesperson said the suspect they want to trace is white, about 5ft 10in tall and in his 30s or 40s.

He was wearing a black helmet, a black motorbike jacket with ‘Frank Thomas’ written on it, navy blue trousers and purple shoes with yellow laces.

Anyone with information should call 101 and quote crime reference number 5224 046 181.