More strike forces to deal with robberies

ARMED: Security footage of a hold-up at Birmingham Gardens earlier this month.
ARMED: Security footage of a hold-up at Birmingham Gardens earlier this month.

THEY range from middle-aged semi-professional gunmen to young teens with small knives in their hands and fear in their eyes.

Some storm into their targeted business and yell obscenities at their petrified victims before running off as quickly as they arrived.

Others appear more relaxed, possibly because experience tells them a level head has more chance of escaping with their loot.

Click on a bubble to see details of some of the robberies in the Hunter.

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But they have all became a major headache for Hunter police, with four strike forces set up to tackle the 51 armed robberies that have occurred across the region in 70 days.

The majority of robbers are facing years in jail for only a few hundred dollars at a time.

The spree yesterday forced some senior police to plead with business owners to be more vigilant about how they open up and close because of a growing trend among some bandits to strike when the least amount of people are around.

‘‘We want to warn all businesses and clubs to be vigilant with staff security and ensure that adequate measures are in place to better protect staff who may be inside premises early in the morning [between midnight and 6am on weekdays and weekends],” Lake Macquarie investigations manager Detective Senior Sergeant Chad Gillies said.

His detectives have formed Strike Force Heinz to look into six attacks across western Lake Macquarie since February 10, including four armed robberies.

Their Newcastle City counterparts are involved in Strike Force Finite after being overwhelmed with continued attacks on businesses from banks to corner stores.

Port Stephens detectives have formed Strike Force Royalty and can add another hold-up to their growing list after three men armed with a rifle, long-bladed knife and baseball bat stormed the Lemon Tree Passage Bowling Club on Tuesday night.

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