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3 September 2012, 10:25
Essex Police have released CCTV footage in a bid to trace a man who threatened two police officers and a shop assistant with a knife during a robbery at Southend.
It happened at Dolly's Newsagents in Fairfax Drive at 9.17pm on Friday August 31.
A man brandishing a kitchen knife threatened a member of staff.
He unsuccessfully tried to open the till then started filling a bag with packs of cigarettes.
Two customers managed to get out of the shop unseen and flagged down a passing police car. As two police officers entered the shop the robber ran towards then brandishing the knife and attempted to stab one of the officers.
Both the officers aimed CS spray at the robber's face which was mostly covered with a black ski mask. The man kept on running and he fled from the shop towards Prittlewell Brook near to the junction with Westbourne Grove.
A widespread search of the area was carried out by numerous police units and the Essex Police helicopter but there was no sign of the suspect who escaped with about 12 packs of cigarettes.
Senior investigating officer DI Andy Waldie said: "We have issued the moving CCTV footage in the hope that someone can help us identify the robber from the clothing he was wearing.
"This was an extremely serious incident involving a suspect who was prepared to use a high level of violence against a customer, the shop assistant and the police officers.
"It seems that he would have stopped at nothing, even attempting to stab a police officer, to rob the store and escape.
"We want to contact the two customers who were in the shop at the time and also hear from anyone who saw this man running away. We would also like to hear from anyone who knows someone who returned home between 9.30 and 10pm smelling of CS spray or having any burning or tingling sensations to the skin, sinuses or eyes.
"The spray is an extreme irritant and would have affected this man for several hours after the incident. Even though most of the spray went into his face mask it would have been enough to cause stinging to his eyes, face and sinuses. It would have remained on his clothes and would also have affected anyone who came into close contact with the man.
"The spray also has a strong and distinctive smell and we want to hear from anyone who might have noticed it as the man ran or walked past them. He might also has been staggering or stumbling along or struggling to see where he was going."
The robber was wearing a black woollen ski mask, light grey hoody with double pocket at the front and with a small grey rectangle logo on the left arm, blue jeans and plain black trainers.
He was carrying a plain black shopping carrier bag. The knife had a blade about 9in long and a dark coloured handle.
Anyone with information should contact the Southend CID Target Team on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.