December 6 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The calm of Monday afternoon in a rural Norfolk village was shattered when a man allegedly walked into a bank armed with a homemade ‘flamethrower’.
Shop workers and passers-by were going about their business when drama unfolded at Barclays bank in Acle yesterday.
The usual routine of the Broadland village was interrupted at about 12.20pm when a man reportedly entered the bank in The Street brandishing a blow torch and a petrol can.
He made threats to staff before police arrived and discharged a Taser.
Four members of staff were inside Barclays at the time. It is not clear if any customers caught up in the ordeal.
Eyewitnesses, who watched as police led staff out the front door to safety, later praised armed officers for being on the scene within minutes.
Acle police station is less than half a mile away from the bank and is a base for Norfolk’s roads policing unit.
Insp Chris Brooks, who oversaw the response, said no one was injured during the incident, but there had been a risk to the public.
He said: “We were called at lunchtime after a man entered the building and threats were made to staff.
“A Taser was discharged and a man has been arrested.”
Officers later removed bags of evidence from the bank, including what appeared to be a green petrol canister.
And as news of what happened spread through the village, shock followed.
Brian Grint, Acle parish councillor, said: “Violent crimes like this are very rare in Acle. Norfolk is one of the safest counties in England and Acle must be one of the safest villages in Norfolk.
“I’m told the police arrived very quickly which is reassuring.”
It was the scream of police sirens arriving at the scene that alerted neighbouring shopworkers and passers-by.
Graham Long, of G Long’s butchers next door to Barclays bank, said: “I didn’t know anything until all the police turned up.
“I heard from a few people he’d walked in with a blow torch and a petrol can and threatened to blow himself up.
“I feel sorry for the girls who work there. It must’ve been terrifying for them.”
Jackie Clover, who runs Clover’s Tea Rooms opposite the bank said: “All of a sudden there were flashing lights and police cars everywhere. “They were here within two or three minutes apparently which is an impressive response.
“When we heard he had petrol and a blow torch, we were worried about an explosion. There’s a lady who lives right above the bank who’s in her 80s.”
Staff at the Property Shop, further along The Street, watched as the bank tellers were rescued.
“We saw the staff coming out the front door and heard the police ask them to stand to one side,” said managing director Sheron Harley.
“It’s a huge surprise that something like this has happened in Acle. There were so many police here so quickly, as well as a fire engine and the paramedics.”
Linda Bunting, negotiator at the estate agent, added: “You feel sorry for the staff. I know bank staff get training for this kind of thing, but it must be awful to go through.”
• A 60-year-old man from the Great Yarmouth area has been arrested in connection with the incident and was yesterday taken into custody at Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre to be questioned.