POLICE have been urged to deploy extra resources following a spate of armed robberies.
Five bookmaker shops run by Ladbrokes in Derry city were held up over a 13-day period during the festive season.
The last to be robbed was on Saturday night when a masked man, armed with a hammer, made off with a sum of cash after holding up staff at the company’s shop on Lecky Road in the Brandywell area.
No one was injured in any of the incidents but staff are believed to have been badly shaken by their ordeals.
Local Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin who is due to meet police today and has called for more police patrols to thwart the attacks.
She said she is concerned due to the frequency and ferocity of the robberies, in which weapons such as knives, meat cleavers and firearms were used, that “we are only a split second away” from a “terrible tragedy” occurring.
Ms McLaughlin appealed to anyone with information about any of the robberies to “bring it forward straight away.”
She added: “We need to make sure that those involved are caught and taken off our streets.”
Calling for extra police resources in Derry, Ms McLaughlin said the robberies “need to be taken very seriously” by the PSNI.
Revealing she was due to meet police today, she added: “The police should examine what kind of focus and resources they can put into place to make sure that the people who are carrying out these attacks on local shops and local people are brought to book.”
At this stage, police are not linking the incidents but have appealed to anyone with any informatiopn or who saw anything suspicious to report it to Strand Road Police Station on 0845 600 8000.
Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.