Robbery leads to fears over Littlehampton’s future policing

Police outside the garage in Littlehampton     PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell SUS-150317-151009001

Police outside the garage in Littlehampton PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell SUS-150317-151009001

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A ‘SKINNY’ man armed with a knife and a Lidl carrier bag robbed a garage in Littlehampton on Monday (March 16).

The drama took place at the Cuff Miller Garage, in Horsham Road, at about 7.40pm, when a man holding a blade demanded cash from a staff member.

The robber made off with £400 while the frightened garage worker was left unharmed.

Matt Smith, 18, was walking with his dog moments after the crime. He described seeing police surrounding the garage forecourt and closing off roads nearby.

Mr Smith, of Southfields Road, said: “It’s kind of terrifying as I walk my dog at night and I don’t really want to get into trouble with people like that. I always fear just walking into the wrong crowd of people and they just turned out to be armed.

“So I was quite shocked to hear about this robbery so close to me.”

Forensic officer searches for clues on the door

Forensic officer searches for clues on the door

The crime is the latest in a string of robberies across the Herald and Gazette area – although police are not linking Monday’s incident to raids in Worthing, Shoreham and Lancing in recent weeks.

The robbery came little more than a week after Sussex Police announced plans to axe 1,000 jobs by 2020 – reducing the number of officers by 700 across the county.

Littlehampton east county councillor Dr James Walsh has since criticised the plans, claiming the cuts could open up the doors for a rise in crime, with Littlehampton becoming a flash point.

Dr Walsh – who was the former chairman of the now defunct Sussex Police Authority – said: “I believe that it’s a major mistake cutting down on frontline policing.

“I see us returning to the dark times in the 1970s and 80s when there was more crime and less police. That’s exactly what will happen now.”

Dr James Walsh, Littlehampton east county councillor

“There’s no way police can smuggle through £50million of cuts without the public or the criminals noticing the impact.

“Okay, there are fast response cars but it takes seven or eight minutes to get them there. Littlehampton is therefore likely to become a hotter spot for violent crime.

“I see us returning to the dark times in the 1970s and 80s when there was more crime and less police. That’s exactly what will happen now. We’re just winding the clock back in time and I believe this is an enormous mistake.”

Monday’s robber is described as white, 5ft 8ins tall, skinny, aged between 20 and 30 and was wearing a dark jacket with a scarf over his face.

A CCTV unit remained as back up for the operation

A CCTV unit remained as back up for the operation

Witnesses or those with information should call police on 101, quoting serial 1398 of 16/03 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk