The tidal wave of crime against retailers has continued into the summer with several shopworkers having their lives threatened during terrifying store raids in May and June. 

The attacks come as Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke pledged to introduce new minimum sentences for offenders and review sentencing in an effort to “shut off the revolving door of crime and re-offending”. 

Three men wearing balaclavas entered Johal’s General Store in Luton, Bedfordshire, on June 19, grabbed a member of staff and held a gun to his head before taking money from the till.

Store manager Raj Ajjipure said that the team member had  been working at the shop for just a month. “He’s unhurt, but very shaken; we all are really,” he said. “Several shops nearby have been robbed in the past months. We need more protection.”

In Midlothian, Sajid Rashid was confronted by a knife-wielding robber in his shop, Sprott Newsagents. Sajid said the youth demanded cash from the till. After several violent threats, Sajid let him have the money. “I was worried that he could do something stupid and my life is worth more than a few pounds, so I told him to take what he wanted,” he said.

Announcing his sentencing review, Clarke said: “There are some nasty people who commit nasty offences. They must be punished, and communities protected. Prisons must be places of punishment, but also of education, hard work and change.”

However, Raj said that simply changing sentencing would not protect retailers and staff. “People will always do whatever it takes when they need money,” he said. “No matter how strict penalties get, there will always be crime.”

A month of assaults

May 22
Two men threaten customers and staff with a gun during a raid at a Co-op store in Knaresborough, Yorkshire
June 12
A shopkeeper suffers arm and head injuries after an assault in his store in Pollockshields, Glasgow
June 11
A pregnant store worker is threatened with a knife at Makdonaldson’s store in York
June 15
A would-be robber produces a knife at an Alldays store in Worthing, West Sussex, but staff refuse to give him cash from the till
June 21
Staff at Martins in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, are threatened with a knife by a young assailant