Police have confirmed that tool store robberies in Lurgan and Portadown are linked to a series of thefts which all occurred yesterday (Wednesday).
A total of five such incidents were reported, starting at the Carnbane Industrial Estate in Newry shortly after 9am.
A group of men are said to have entered the store and distracted staff before removing goods.
Over the course of several hours, further reports were received by police of men, matching the same description, entering stores at Goban Street in Portadown, Flush Place in Lurgan, Lissue Industrial Estate in Lisburn and ending at Orby Link in east Belfast.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “The men were reported to have been wearing work clothing at each incident. CCTV footage has been recovered from various locations and enquiries are currently ongoing to identify those involved.”
Yesterday, the family who own ML Tools in Portadown were left “shaken” after close to £3,000 worth of tools robbed from their store at around 10.45am.
Speaking to Armagh I following the incident, Sam Nellins, who had been working at the time, admitted to being rattled by the incident.
“I calmed down when I was giving my statement, but I am a bit shaky again because now my head is thinking ‘what if I confronted them’. Two of the lads were quite big,” said he.
Meanwhile, Ryan Dennison, of Trade Tools in Lurgan, claimed his store was targeted by the same group less than one hour later, in the presence of his eight-year-old son.
Having confronted the individuals, who made off with over £3,000 worth of goods, he told Armagh I: “I was trying to be firm enough with them but in the back of my head I was thinking this can go wrong so quickly”.
Police have urged anyone with any information or who is offered tools for sale in suspicious circumstances to call police on the non-emergency number 101, or submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form.
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online.