A POLICE chief is denying Ellesmere Port has become a magnet for armed robbers.
Last Wednesday evening a police officer had a gun pointed at him by a masked raider when he turned up to deal with a ram-raid at the Nationwide Building Society in Rivington Road.
And the previous week there were three separate armed robberies within two hours on two service stations and a newsagents in the town.
But head of Ellesmere Port CID, Detective Inspector Steve Gould, says the number of offences of this type has actually fallen compared to the same period last year.
He said: 'Ellesmere Port suffers no worse than similar towns. Since June we have investigated 21 robberies but in the same period last year there were 25, of which 36% were detected.
'The detection rate so far this year is 24% but we have to remember some investigations are still very much in their infancy.'
'This year we have concentrated our efforts on high-profile policing, especially in areas we believe the most vulnerable premises are to be found.
But manpower only stretches so far and it's therefore vital we have the help of the public and businesses.'
'Businesses can do much more to prevent being targeted through taking simple steps such as regularly removing large amounts of cash from tills, not leaving staff alone and installing CCTV equipment.'
In last Wednesday's Nationwide attack the robbers struck as Securicor guards arrived to fill up cash machines.
DI Gould says the offenders drove up to the building society in two stolen Vauxhall Cavaliers and used one to smash through the front window before threatening the guards with an axe.
He said: 'A police officer arrived at the scene while the robbery was in progress and was threatened with a handgun. Following a short chase his patrol car was rammed before a gun was again pointed at him. The offenders then escaped with a substantial amount of cash.'
'We want to know where either Vauxhall Cavalier, both of which were red or maroon in colour, were kept prior to the robbery. One was stolen from Elton the other from Mount Farm Way in Great Sutton.'
* Witnesses to any Ellesmere Port robbery are asked to call Ellesmere Port CID on 01244 613031 or ring CrimeStoppers in complete confidence on 0800 888111.