Norfolk retailer Nigel Dowdney has hailed the police’s quick action after his Norwich store was the recent victim of two armed robberies in the space of a week.

The first incident occurred when two robbers, armed with a chisel and Flymo blade, entered his Earlham Shopper store at 6.10am and stole two bottles of vodka and a few packs of cigarettes. “The police picked them up that afternoon. They were brilliant - they arrived within three minutes of being called, in eight squad cars,” Nigel said.

A week later a man stole £200 from the store after threatening a member of staff with a carving knife. “The girl hit the panic alarm, but the burglar alarm went off by mistake and all hell broke loose. But again, the police arrived within minutes. The police were interviewing a witness who then spotted the culprit walking along the other side of the road and he was caught there and then,” he said.

The police have recommended eight-year jail terms for the suspects, which Nigel hopes the Crown Prosecution Service will back up.

“I was expecting them to recommend less, but I’m really pleased. The psychological effect on the staff has been horrendous, and one of the girls is having counselling. And all for a couple of bottles of cheap vodka and some packs of Winston.”

He added that a shopper phoned the store within 20 minutes of the second incident to check on staff. “I asked how she knew so quickly, and she said it was all over Facebook!”