THE robbery at One Stop in Shoreham is being linked to three others in the surrounding area.
Detectives are investigating the robberies in Portslade and Hangleton alongside the one in Buckingham Road.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: “We are linking all four of these robberies due to the way these men go about the offence and taking cash and cigarettes.
“Their descriptions are also similar, with the victims describing them as two black men and a white man all dressed in dark clothing and balaclavas.
“We are asking shops in the Portslade and Hangleton areas especially to be vigilant and aware of these robberies when closing up for the night, and to consider changing their routines regularly.
“We are asking anyone who has been offered cheaper cigarettes or seen anyone selling a large amount which could be suspicious to get in touch.”
The first robbery happened as the Martin’s newsagents in Station Road, Portslade, was opening for the day at 6am on November 28.
The victim was opening up the shop when three men came in, demanding she turned off the lights. The shop assistant was grabbed by the neck and forced into the back room, where she was forced to open the safe.
The three men took £1,600 cash as well as about £3,000 worth of cigarettes before making their escape through the rear fire exit, which leads into St Aubyns Road. She was shaken but unhurt.
The other three all happened as the shops were closing for the day.
On Monday, December 8, at 10.55pm, the Tates Texaco garage in Old Shoreham Road was robbed as the member of staff was locking the door.
Three men pushed into the garage and took several hundreds of pounds from the safe and cigarettes. The member of staff saw a knife and was punched in the head but was not seriously injured.
The One Stop shop in Shoreham was robbed at around 11pm on Wednesday, December 10.
As the two employees were closing the door, they were forced back into the shop and ordered to hand over cash. Both were threatened and one was struck in the face.
Several hundreds of pounds were stolen. The woman was not seriously hurt but obviously extremely shaken.
The latest robbery was in Queen’s Parade, Hangleton Road, at 10.40pm on Tuesday.
The staff member had been at the counter, preparing to close the shop, when two men came in, approached him and demanded the keys. He handed them over and they locked the door.
One of the men forced him around the back of the shop, leaving the other man at the till. He was punched in the face before being robbed of his wallet, mobile phone and his own keys.
He was then forced to open the safe where money was taken, they also took cigarettes before leaving in the Applesham Avenue direction.
Two 17-year-old boys from Hove have been arrested on suspicion of robbery but have been bailed until January while investigations continue.
Anyone who has seen anything suspicious around these areas at the time of the robberies, or has seen anyone acting strangely, should contact police on email@example.com or 101 quoting Op Clutch. Alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.