Man hurt as gang hits tobacco shop
A SHOPKEEPER has been taken to hospital after being bashed with a hammer during a cigarette store robbery.
The victim’s son believes the bandits are connected with a previous robbery in November on the Cignall tobacconist on Miller St, Thornbury.
Kevin Zhu said his father, Paul, 60, tried to defend himself as four or five men converged on the store wielding a block-splitting hammer at 11.50am yesterday.
“They’d definitely been here before because they knew where everything was,” Mr Zhu said. “Basically, they knew things they shouldn’t have. We don’t show people where our storehouse is.”
Police said the gang stole cigarettes before fleeing in a dark BMW, leaving Mr Zhu with facial injuries. He is recovering in hospital. Eyewitness Stuart saw the robbery take place. “Just witnessed an armed robbery in broad daylight on Miller Street, Thornbury,” he posted to social media.
One of the alleged offenders was seen wearing a black hood with a white piece of material over his face.
Eyewitness Grant Taylor, a former police officer from Western Australia, said he saw four offenders double-park a vehicle directly outside the shop before running in, wielding crowbars and hammers.
“They were quite well covered with head and face coverings and gloves,” he said.
“They came out carrying a bar or a crowbar, and hammers, one was a block-splitter hammer, which was left at the scene, they dropped that in their rush to get out. They were carrying a lightly coloured doona cover, which was loaded with stuff, mainly cigarettes.”
Mr Taylor described the alleged offenders as men who were tall with a slim build, but he couldn’t identify their ethnicity due to their entire bodies being covered.
A neighbouring shop keeper was seen running across the street while the armed robbery was taking place.
He kicked in the driver’s side rear door of the car, which was open, in an attempt to foil the burglary.
Mr Taylor said this made the armed robbers “flustered”, causing them to run back into the store for a few seconds.
“It was only seconds but it felt like forever,” he said.
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Images of the men fleeing after allegedly robbing the Cignall tobacconist in Miller St, Thornbury, yesterday morning.