SHOPKEEPERS are being urged to check their security arrangements and keep their wits about them after a spate of robberies in the north of the county.

There have been five robberies since the start of the year which have involved men, in some cases wearing masks, going into shops and threatening staff with weapons including a machete.

Detective Sergeant Kate Anderson from Northamptonshire Police said: “This highlights that shopkeepers should spring clean their store security.

“There will always be a degree of risk, but this can be reduced by following simple steps.

“It is always good to do as much as you can to safeguard yourself and premises. Make sure you have a phone on you, have good CCTV and alarms working – always remain vigilant.

“We would encourage shopkeepers to also look out at what’s happening around them.

“People are walking around wearing winter clothes so perhaps it is more difficult to spot someone who may cause trouble so I’d urge workers to remain aware of what’s going on around them especially in the early mornings or at night.”

The spate of robberies began when Dinesh and Kishan Gorania had to fight off masked men with a mop and hockey stick as they tried to rob their store, the Premier Store in Church Hall Road, Rushden, on January 20.

There was an armed robbery at the Co-op in Kingsway, Wellingborough, on January 26, and another at the Hunting Lodge in Cottingham on January 29.

The latest took place on Monday at Thomson travel agents in Silver Street, Wellingborough, and on Tuesday at the Co-operative Food Store in Stamford Road, Kettering.

But a police spokesman said: “Investigations are continuing but we don’t believe these offences are linked.”

Sat Braich, sub-postmaster at Irchester post office, said the spate of robberies was worrying. He said: “It’s quite frightening. It makes you wonder if it’s worth it, doing the business. If my life is in danger, is it worth the risk?”

He said he took a number of safety precautions, such as always having at least two staff on duty, but cuts in streetlighting meant the quality of CCTV images from the cameras outside the shop was sometimes impaired.