Sussex Police has released an image of two men they would like to speak to in connection with a spate of robberies in the Bognor Regis area.
Three robberies are believed to have been carried out by the same offenders - as well as two burglaries.
In the first incident a 44-year-old man was approached by two men as he walked home from Bognor at about 1am on Sunday, August 25, on Felpham Esplanade, adjacent to Longbrook (near Sea Lane).
They asked him if he had any money before assaulting him, punching him to the floor and kicking him, causing cuts and bruises to his face and head. He managed to escape without anything being stolen but needed hospital treatment the next day for his injuries.
The same day at 9.13pm, an elderly man had his house in the Midway, Felpham, broken into. The intruders put a blanket over the 86-year-old’s head while he was in bed and demanded to know where this money was. They then searched his home and left with a cordless telephone handset, radio-controlled wrist watch, digital radio and £10 cash.
The following day, just after 12.30pm, two men followed an elderly woman into Fitzleet House, Queensway, in Bognor Regis, and got into a lift with her. The lift went up one floor and as the pair got out they grabbed the 85-year-old victim’s handbag.
The pensioner, who has limited mobility, attempted to keep hold of it but she was pulled from the lift and onto the floor. The two men made off with the bag and its contents, which included a purse and cash, leaving the woman with bruising to her elbow.
DS Michelle Auger, from The Priority Crime Team, said: “CCTV images for the second two offences show the same two men in the relevant areas at the relevant times. The descriptions are similar those given by the victim of the attempted robbery on Felpham Esplanade, and two of the victims described the men has having foreign accents.
“It’s vitally important that we speak to them as soon as possible as part of our enquiries into these offences so we can get an account from them.
“In the robberies, both victims were elderly and vulnerable. The first was attacked in his own home and had a blanket thrown over him before he was threatened; the second was subjected to violence as she was pulled out of the lift. Understandably, both were extremely upset and distressed by their ordeal.
“If anyone recognises the two men in the image released - the one in the front also had a personal radio clipped to the front of his jeans - then we would urge them to call police as soon as possible on 101, quoting serial 0838 of 30/08 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”
Police have stepped up patrols in the area after two recent burglaries, which may be linked to the robberies.
The first happened at Downview Road, Felpham, between Thursday, August 22, at 5pm and Saturday, August 24, at 2pm. The offenders forced open the back door and, having gained entry, carried out an untidy search before stealing property, including electrical goods.
Another home was broken into and electrical items stolen at about 9.45pm on Saturday, August 24, in Admirality Road, Felpham. On this occasion the burglars tried to force open a back door before using a spade from the property to open the front porch and smash the front door window.
While the pair were at the property, the victim returned home and disturbed them. Police immediately searched the area but they were not found.
“These burglaries happened at a similar location and time to the other offences we are investigating so we cannot rule out the possibility of them being linked,” added DS Auger. “Extensive enquiries are being carried out by officers and we are following up numerous lines of enquiry to try and find those responsible.
“We understand local people will be concerned about the offences that have been committed. I would like to take this opportunity to stress that these types of crimes are extremely rare in this area and wish to reassure the community that local officers are doing all they can, including increasing patrols in the Felpham area.
“We would ask members of the public who were in the areas of the various offences to cast their minds back to the relevant times and to contact us immediately if they think they have any information, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.”