Detectives hunting culprits behind four robbery bids in different corners of Belfast within under 90 minutes have made a number of arrests.
In the first incident, at about 12.30pm two males entered a shop on Mountpottinger Road, in the republican-dominated Short Strand estate in inner-east Belfast.
One of them approached the counter to pay for an item and, when the shop till was opened, the second male leapt over the counter and put his hand in the till drawer to grab money.
A struggle ensued between the suspect and a worker, during which the employee received an injury to her arm.
The suspects fled with a sum of money and got into a car outside the shop, possibly a red-coloured Renault Megane.
One male is described as being approximately 30, tall, with very short ginger hair, ginger stubble, and was wearing a khaki green ‘Ellesse’ hoody with two white horizontal stripes.
The second male is described as being in his 20s, with dark coloured hair and wearing a black woolly hat, black raincoat, grey sweatpants, black Nike trainers with a white sole.
A short time later, at 1.20pm we received a report about another incident at commercial premises in Finwood Park, in the loyalist-dominated Taughmonagh area of south Belfast.
In this instance, a male, who is described as being aged in his 20s, wearing a distinctive black coat with red zips, entered the premises and stole an amount of money from the till, struggling with a staff member before running away.
In the next incident, which was reported to police at 1.30pm, there was an attempted robbery at commercial premises in the nearby Erinvale Drive area in Finaghy.
A single male, who is described as being in his mid-20s, wearing a black tracksuit top, attempted to steal money from the till, but was unsuccessful.
In the final incident, reported at 1.52pm, a single male entered commercial premises in the Rowan Drive area of Dunmurry, south-west Belfast, and queued at the till before then attempting to grab money when the till opened but was unsuccessful.
The male is described as being in his 20s, slim build with a moustache and wearing a black coat with red zips, grey tracksuit bottoms and black Nike trainers with a white tick.
Just before 3pm a police patrol located and stopped a Red Renault Megane on Lower Crescent in south Belfast and three men, aged 25, 35 and 53 were arrested.
The 25-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a number of offences, including robbery, theft, two counts of attempted theft, possession of a class A drug and possessing of a class A drug with intent to supply. He remains in custody at this stage.
The 35-year-old was arrested on suspicion of robbery, theft, two counts of attempted theft, possession of a class A drug, possession of a class A drug with intent to supply and possession of a class c drug.
The 53-year-old was arrested on suspicion of robbery, theft, two counts of attempted theft, possession of a class A drug, possession of a class A drug with intent to supply.
The 35 and 53 year old men have been released on bail pending further enquiries.
These incidents were terrifying for the members of staff involved and I wish to reassure the local community that police are doing all they can to identify those responsible for these types of incidents and bring them before the courts.
I am appealing to anyone who was in the area of each of these incidents yesterday afternoon, who saw two males acting suspiciously, or who believes they saw the a vehicle matching that reported to have been used by the suspects, to get in touch with detectives on 101, quoting reference 931 of 09/06/19.”
Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous.