Hunt for armed robbers who attack Little Chef restaurants  

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The Independent Online

As armed robberies go, raids on Little Chef restaurants in the Midlands have to be among the least glamorous crimes of the century so far.

As armed robberies go, raids on Little Chef restaurants in the Midlands have to be among the least glamorous crimes of the century so far.

But despite the lack of criminal kudos, a group of desperadoes has robbed at least 14 of the roadside eateries since 2000. In each of the raids the "Little Chef Gang" has been making off with hundreds of pounds, mostly in coins, and pocketfuls of phone cards. There have been no reports yet of anyone attempting to steal the restaurant's food.

Better known for their all-day breakfasts than as criminal targets, Little Chefs' lure of easy access and a day's takings appear to have been too much for the robbers. The food chain hasput up a reward of £10,000 for information leading to the conviction of the gang.

The offences generally involve two men who often wear balaclavas and carry weapons including baseball bats, screwdrivers and chisels.

Most of the restaurants involved have been attacked at night, when customers have gone and staff are locking up.

In the latest robbery two men, described as black and Asian, threatened staff at a Little Chef in Oldbury, West Midlands, at 9pm on 27 January and made off with some cash.

Detective Inspector Jon Drake, who is investigating the Staffordshire offences, said: "It's very likely that the same men are behind all of these crimes. They're usually in and out of the premises very quickly and threaten staff into handing over cash from the safe or the tills. Sometimes they also grab phonecards."

He added: "These men are prolific robbers and the fact that they go for cash suggests they may be stealing to pay for drugs.

"Whatever their motive, they obviously have no regard for the staff they threaten. Many of the victims are very young and simply working hard to earn some honest money. They have been left very frightened by what's happened.

"Fortunately, the offenders seem to shy away from all-out confrontation, and no one has been seriously hurt."