Men threatened at knife-point during robbery spree

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TWO men were threatened at knife-point and a pensioner was punched in the face during three vicious robberies in Burnley and Padiham in the early hours of yesterday.

The two 18-year-old victims were walking home along Padiham Road between Lakeland Way and The George the 4th pub around 12-20am when they were approached by two men one of whom was holding a knife.

Both men were searched at knife-point and the robbers fled with cash, a mobile phone and a PSP handheld gaming device.

Ten minutes earlier a 70-year-old man was walking past Padiham Town Hall in Burnley Road, Padiham, when he was approached by two men on foot. They engaged him in conversation and asked for money. When he refused, one of the men punched him in the face knocking him to the floor. The other then rifled through his pockets and stole his money.

Shortly afterwards, two teenage boys and a teenage girl were walking along Kiddrow Lane towards Padiham Road. They too were approached by two men, who demanded money and property and searched the victims’ pockets before making off with a wallet, a phone, a lighter and an iPod.

The three robberies followed two earlier incidents in Accrington and Great Harwood and detectives believe all five robberies could be linked.

Around 11-10pm on Sunday a 22-year-old man was walking home alone along Cambridge Street, Accrington. As he reached the junction of the alleyway to Water Street and Sultan Street, he was confronted by two men who demanded his phone. They pushed him against wall and then stole his phone and fled down the alleyway.

A 20-year-old man was also targeted at 12-05am yesterday as he was walking home alone along Hyndburn Road, Great Harwood towards the junction with Whalley Road.

As he reached the junction, he noticed two men get out of a car that had stopped at the traffic lights. The men walked towards him, grabbed the victim and threatened him with what appeared to be a small knife before stealing cash and his chain from around his neck.

In each of the cases, the men were described as white, in their early twenties and were wearing blacked hooded tops and black shorts, possibly with motifs on the front and black training shoes or boots.

Det. Insp. Marie Haworth said: “We are still at the early stages of the investigation and although it is too early to tell whether these incidents are definitely linked, we are considering that possibility.

“Fortunately, none of the victims were seriously injured but were all left extremely shaken by their ordeal and so I would urge anyone with any information to come forward and contact us as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.

• A 25-year-old man from Nelson was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery and was being questioned by police.