A SHOPKEEPER has relived the daylight robbery of his store by three cunning criminals who made off with a four-figure sum.
The News Express shop in Eskdaill Court, Dalkeith, was targeted by the gang as store owner Mohammed Afzal Mughal, 50, counted up his takings last Friday afternoon.
He was alone in the shop when three men came in, with one of them asking him for help at the other end of the premises.
When Mr Mughal returned to his counter, he sold the group a packet of crisps.
It was only after the customers left that he realised they had gone off with his takings.
He said: “I was in the shop myself, counting up the money. A guy had come in to buy milk at about 2.15pm. I then noticed him outside with two other guys.
“Two of them had been outside watching me.
“I had put the money under the counter. Then the three of them came in together. One chap asked me for cooking sauce so I went down the other side of the shop to get it with two of them, and that’s when the money was taken.
“The two together bought a packet of crisps and left.
“It was only then that I realised that the money was gone. It was 30 seconds, just in a flash.
“After that I checked the CCTV footage and I saw how they did the trick. They were very clever, taking my attention like that. There was no violence, no knife or anything.”
Mr Mughal, who has managed the shop for six years, believes that the theft was planned.
He said: “I had not seen them before. One of the two that distracted me was about 50. The other was 40 to 45.
“The one that took the money was about 30. They were all local. I could tell by their accents.
“I count the money every day at that time, so they obviously knew it would be there.
“That’s a lot of money, a whole day’s takings, so that’s one day of work gone.
“This is the first time this has happened in my life. I have been doing this job for 24 years in this country.”
Police investigating the theft are appealing for anyone who recognises their descriptions of the suspects to come forward.
Inspector Neil Mitchell, who is based at Dalkeith police station, said: “The first suspect is described as white, around 6ft tall, aged between 40 to 45 years old, with a slim build and wearing a green jacket and possibly a green hat.
“The second male is white, spoke with a local accent, around 5ft 5in tall, heavy build, aged around 50 years old and wearing a dark jacket, beanie style hat and dark trousers.
“The final suspect is also white, between 5ft 8in and 6ft tall, aged between 35 to 45 years old, medium build and seen wearing a dark coloured jacket, beanie hat with writing on the front and possibly blue jeans.
“Anyone who noticed unusual activity in the area of Eskdaill Court on Friday afternoon is asked to contact police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”