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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Armed gang in 1m store raid
Makro store
The Dunmurry Makro store raided by masked gang
More than 1m worth of goods have been stolen in an armed robbery at a wholesale store on the outskirts of Belfast.

Police blamed a "professional gang" for the raid at the huge Makro cash-and-carry premises at Kingsway, Dunmurry on Sunday.

Staff were tied up and locked in a room by seven masked men, two of whom were armed with handguns.

The raiders used a 40-foot lorry to transport their haul of tobacco, alcohol and expensive electrical goods.

It happened between 2100 and 2200 BST as the workers were arriving for a night shift.

Freed

The staff members were freed almost four hours later by firefighters, who were responding to an alarm that had been set off in the premises.

They were badly shaken, but no-one was injured during the raid.

At this stage, detectives are not linking the robbery to any paramilitary group.

Police Superintendent Gerry Murray said the robbery was well-planned.

"Some of the staff who were held hostage said it was very professional," he said.

"We are not ruling anything in or out, but it seems to have been an orchestrated professional gang who knew exactly what they wanted, where to go and how to exit."

SDLP assembly member Patricia Lewsley described the robbery as racketeering at its worst.

"There is no excuse, no justification, and no need for this sort of activity," she said.

"The only people who benefit from it are cruel and callous criminals."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Mervyn Jess reports
"The robbers forced five members of staff into a small office and locked them in"



SEE ALSO:
Jobs boost for wholesale firm
08 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland


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