Get the gunmen before they kill someone

Police are in a race against time to catch an armed gang on the loose in Norfolk before someone is seriously injured or even killed.

Police are in a race against time to catch an armed gang on the loose in Norfolk before someone is seriously injured or even killed.

Masked men armed with shotguns have raided at least six rural properties in the west of the county in as many days.

Up to five robbers have taken part in raids on homes in Nordelph, Stowbridge, North Runcton, Upwell, Elm and Wereham.

Shots have been fired in at least two of the attacks, although no one has yet been injured.

Detectives believe the gang may be local and one line of inquiry is whether they are part of the same family, who could come from the area where properties have been targeted.

Norfolk's crack Major Incident Team has been drafted in to lead the hunt for the gang. They are studying links between the raids, an armed robbery at Northwold and an aggravated burglary at Pott Row.

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Chief Supt Tony Cherington said last night: “On the last two occasions, in Upwell and Wereham, a gang we believe is responsible for a number of armed robberies in the area has fired shots.

“Fortunately, in neither case was anyone injured, but this clearly reflects the potential risk posed by this group, whom we consider to be extremely dangerous.

“High-visibility patrols in the area have been enhanced, and the investigation team is actively pursuing a number of strong lines of inquiry.”

Det Chief Insp Neil Firm said children were present in the property when a weapon was fired at a robbery in Upwell.

Twenty-five police are working on the case. Armed response units are on standby and patrols in the rural areas have been stepped up.

Officers from across Norfolk are involved in the case and they are liaising with colleagues in Suffolk, Lincoln-shire and Cambridgeshire.

Det Chief Insp Firm said: “We would suggest anyone who carries round a shotgun with them to a commit a crime is desperate, without a shadow of a doubt.

“The amount of violence they have used is unbelievable - we have not seen this on this side of the county before. Quite clearly they are dangerous and we do have concerns about their activities.”

He said officers had been at the scene within two to three minutes of some of the robberies being reported but the gang had always escaped, which suggested they had a good local knowledge of the area, minor roads and tracks.

The gang has escaped with cash from some of the properties raided but has also left empty-handed on the last three occasions.

Police are now looking into possible links with an offence at Nordelph on Monday, September 10, and an armed robbery at the Comfort Inn in Northwold on August 28.

Descriptions of the gang members are limited, but there could be up to five of them, with two aged in their 20s and one man reported to be aged in his 40s. They are believed to speak with local accents.

Police are also keen to gather information on a red or maroon Vauxhall Vectra which was seen at the scene of one of the incidents.

People are being warned not to approach or confront anyone fitting the description of the gang, but to report suspicious activity or vehicles seen in their neighbourhood immediately.

t Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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