Police offer £10,000 reward to find armed thief
A £10,000 reward has been offered in the hunt for a man who robbed eight betting shops – including one in Leicester – in less than three weeks.
The man has been linked to eight gunpoint robberies between mid-February and last Wednesday, when he targeted a branch of Ladbrokes in Gipsy Lane, Belgrave.
In each case, the robber threatened staff with a gun and ordered them to empty tills.
Police have released a CCTV image of a man they want to trace in connection with the robberies in Leicester, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire and Sussex.
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The reward money has been put up by the Association of British Bookmakers, which said it rarely offered cash incentives for information about criminals.
Spokesman Peter Craske said the number of crimes in a short space of time meant the man needed to be captured as soon as possible.
"It is rare for us to offer a reward like this, but it is rare to have so many robberies in such a short space of time," he said.
"Our concern is for the staff and customers in betting shops and for the general public. We want this man to be brought to justice as soon as possible."
Officers have connected at least eight offences between February and March.
The first happened in Wellingborough on February 13, followed by two incidents at stores in Northampton on February 16 and one in Crawley, Sussex, on February 18.
The next robbery took place in Kettering on February 21, followed by an incident in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, on February 23 and another in Crawley on February 27.
The Leicester robbery is the latest to be linked by police.
The suspect is black, 5ft 5in to 6ft and in his late 30s or early 40s.
In seven of the eight raids, he was wearing a black hooded top.
Detective Inspector Mark Pattison, of Northamptonshire police, said: "This reward has been offered to help encourage anyone who may have any information about this man to come forward. Thankfully, no-one was hurt in any of these incidents. However, they have been extremely traumatic for the cashiers and the businesses have lost money.
"We are working closely with the other forces where we believe the offences have been committed by the same man and are confident that someone has information that can help."
Ratilal Govind, chairman of the Belgrave United Neighbourhood Watch, said: "It is very upsetting to hear a firearm might have been involved."
Anyone with information should contact Northamptonshire police on 101 and quote Operation Needle.
Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.