MELKSHAM was hit with a crime spree this week after an armed robbery took place at two local convenience stores and dozens of cars were vandalised.

Police are appealing for witnesses after break-ins took place at the Co-op in Blackmore Road at 3.07am and then the Jones Convenience Store, in Forest Road, just after 6am on Tuesday.

In the second robbery, a member of staff was threatened by the two masked men, who were carrying a knife and what is believed to be a replica handgun. The perpetrators took money from the till in the raid.Cigarettes were stolen from the Co-op heist.

Police are looking into whether these armed robberies, along with break-ins at Best One shop in London Road, Chippenham, at 2.26am and Barnett Brothers newsagents in Corsham High Street at 5.35am, are all connected.

The men involved in the Jones Convenience Store robbery have been described as white, both wore balaclavas, one was around 5ft 8” was wearing dark clothing. The other was carrying an orange carrier bag.

DS Sarah Mackett, from Melksham CID, said: “We are currently investigating four separate incidents, in three different towns, but we are keeping an open mind about the possibility that they are linked.

“We believe we are dealing with two or three offenders who are likely to have access to a vehicle.” and we want to hear from anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious at any of these four locations.

“The armed robbery is of particular concern and although nobody was injured, the staff who were in the shop at the time have been left understandably shaken and frightened by what happened.

“We are still in the very early stages of our investigation, but we do have CSI teams attending the scene and are looking through some CCTV footage at the various premises. I want to reassure the public that we are taking these incidents seriously and will be doing everything we can to catch those responsible.”

A total of 24 cars in the town either had their windows smashed, punctured tyres and scratched bodywork between March 27 and Easter Monday.

Community police coordinator, Lee Pelling, added: “There has been a significant spate of criminal damage to motor vehicles in recent days. We urge Melksham residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity on 101 or 999.”