Spate of armed robberies raises alarm

A TEENAGER charged with armed robbery after a South Grafton service station was held-up has been denied bail in Grafton Local Court.

Police allege the 18-year-old from Grafton entered a Coles Express petrol station on Bent St, South Grafton, armed with a small tomahawk around 10.46pm on Thursday night, and approached the counter demanding cash and cigarettes.

It is alleged he later fled the store with an amount of cash and was tracked by police to a South Grafton location, where he was arrested and taken into custody.

It is the fourth armed robbery in the Grafton area in just over a month, and Coffs/Clarence acting crime manager Detective Sergeant Ian Corcoran said it was becoming a concerning trend.

On the afternoon of April 4, an axe-wielding man left employees traumatised when he robbed the Boundary Store in Queen St, Grafton.

Exactly two weeks later, two men used "tool-type implements" to hold up the United service station on Schwinghammer St, South Grafton in the early hours of April 18.

The BP Tornik at Clarenza was the next to be targeted on April 25, allegedly by a 16-year-old armed with a tomahawk.

A South Grafton teenager has since been arrested in relation to the robbery.

In each incident, police told The Daily Examiner the perpetrator/s demanded an amount of cash and items from the store.

"It is a concerning trend that young people think it's an easy way to access money and cigarettes," Detective Sergeant Corcoran said.

"The offence itself carries heavy penalties for what the reward really is and given the success rate lately of police due to good work and investigation, we'd be suggesting that this sort of crime is not worth it," he said.

Armed robbery with an offensive weapon carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment.

"That's not to mention the trauma they put the shop attendants through," Detective Sergeant Corcoran added.

Investigations into the April 18 hold-up are ongoing, and anyone with information can phone Grafton police on 6642 0222 or CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.



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