‘Escaped prisoner robbed store’

CCTV from the Heron store raid
CCTV from the Heron store raid

AN escaped prisoner suspected of committing a nationwide robbery spree is thought to have struck at a St Helens bank.

Detectives believe fugitive Lyndon Stein, 49, who absconded from HMP Springhill in Aylesbury on April 29, targeted the Santander branch in Fingerpost last Tuesday (June 11).

At about 5pm a man approached the counter at the Higher Parr Street branch, indicated he had a firearm in his carrier bag, threatened staff and demanded money.

He then made his getaway with a quantity of cash.

Although nobody was injured, staff members were left extremely shaken by the incident.

This was just the latest in a string of robberies in the last two months which police have linked to Stein.

They suspect he first targeted a hair salon in Cheshire the day after his escape.

Police say he subsequently targeted a Thomas Cook travel agency in Bristol, a Leeds and Holbrook building society in Gloucestershire and a Britannia building society in Bristol.

On May 15 police believe he targeted the Co-Op store on Park Road South in his native Newton-le-Willows before robbing a Lloyds TSB bank and a Thomas Cook travel agency in Makerfield, Cheshire, on the same day.

Then, on May 24, he is suspected to have targeted the Heron Frozen Foods supermarket in Newton-le-Willows - again demanding cash from staff who believed he had a weapon concealed in his bag.

The offender made off with several thousand pounds.

Stein is also thought to have threatened staff at a Santander branch in Gloucestershire and at a Thomas Cook on the High Street in Kingswood.

He is described as white, of a stocky build and normally carries a plastic carrier bag when committing these offences.

On more than one occasion he has also worn a high-visibility jacket and a cap or bobble hat.

Describing the two Newton robberies, DI Andy Milligan said: “On May 15, a man went into the Co-Op on Park Road South at 7.30am wearing a high-visibility jacket and carrying something in a bag. He approached a cashier, pointed the object at her and ordered her to hand over the money. Staff tried to explain that they did not have access to the safe and luckily, at that moment, a customer walked in and the offender left empty-handed.

“Then, on May 24, a man dressed in a similar jacket walked into Heron Frozen Foods at around 5.30pm and asked to speak to the manager. When a member of staff took him to the manager’s office, the offender pulled out an object concealed in a plastic bag and again demanded cash. The staff believed the object was a weapon and handed over a substantial amount of cash and he left.

“We believe the same man is responsible for both incidents and we are eager to trace Lyndon Stein.”

Anyone with information can call police on 0151 777 6061 or speak to Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.