Armed raids near epidemic levels as shop hit again

The Bellevue Express store. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Bellevue Express store. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Violent retail crime in the Capital is reaching “epidemic proportions”, an industry expert said today.

A string of armed robberies have taken place across the city in recent months.

The latest incident saw a Costcutter shop in Bellevue Road held up on Sunday evening – just seven months after it was last targeted.

Police say armed robbery detection rates have increased, but the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRF) fears shops are increasingly being seen as easy targets.

Paul Baxter, chief executive of the NFRF, said many retailers were open from early in the morning until late at night with few staff on duty.

He said: “In places like Edinburgh, retail crime is reaching epidemic proportions and more needs to be done to protect shop owners and their workers. What’s worse is that we know that many crimes go unreported because retailers believe the police won’t respond to their calls or, if the criminals are arrested, there is little chance of a successful prosecution or a punishment given that truly fits the crime.

“As a result, the true crime figures could be far higher than any of us realise.”

A man threatened a woman shop worker with a knife during the incident at Costcutter on Sunday at around 7.50pm before making off with cash and two bottles of Buckfast.

Police said the man had been hanging around outside the shop for around ten minutes before the robbery.

He is thought to be aged between 18 and 20, and was described as white, 5ft 9in tall, with a thin to medium build and wearing a light-grey plain hooded top. He had a black and white checked scarf covering the lower part of his face, had his hood up and was wearing grey jogging trousers.

Last August, shop worker 
Dhayalan Thangavel was struck on the neck at the store with a blade by a teenager who escaped with £115 in cash.

Earlier this month, the News told how Muhammad Afzal Hanif chased off two would-be robbers from the Fernieside Newsagent, while 77-year-old shopkeeper Ahmed Ali suffered a gash to the head following a robbery attempt in the Restalrig Village Store.

Among other recent high-profile armed robberies, Laing the Jeweller in Frederick Street was also targeted.

Police Scotland said officers always responded to reports of robberies, and attended the Costcutter “in a matter of 
minutes”.

A spokeswoman said: “Over the last two years robbery detection has increased to 70 per cent and individuals have been recently charged in connection with robberies at Laings, Ladbrokes in Portobello and at a newsagents in Restalrig.”