Police hunt takeaway raider

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POLICE are searching for a man after he stole cash from a takeaway till and sparked a dramatic chain of events that saw a police car smash into a house front.

Two members of staff were working at Michelle’s Diner, in Sixth Street, Horden, when a man wearing a black woollen hat burst inside, grabbed the till and smashed the cash drawer.

Sharon Dean and Peter Smeatham outside their damaged home

Sharon Dean and Peter Smeatham outside their damaged home

The thief, who is thought to be in his late 20s or early 30s, then rushed out of the shop with the day’s takings and ran down an alley next to the nearby St Mary’s Church, just before 2pm on Tuesday.

As police responded to reports of the theft, a police car smashed into the front of a home in Horden’s Eleventh Street, stopping just inches short of where 47-year-old Sharon Dean was sitting in her front room, as reported in yesterday’s Hartlepool Mail.

Durham Police say they are still investigating how the smash happened. But fortunately the 40-year-old officer who was driving the car was released from Sunderland Royal Hospital hours after escaping serious injury and being treated for whiplash.

No-one in the home was injured when the Vauxhall Astra police car smashed into the property at around 2.20pm. Police retrieved the stolen till drawer nearby, but are yet to recover any cash.

Michelle Crombie (left) and staff member Emma Balmforth

Michelle Crombie (left) and staff member Emma Balmforth

They are now asking any witnesses of the theft from Michelle’s Diner, or anyone with any information, to come forward.

Michelle Crombie, who runs Michelle’s Diner, told the Mail how she was at home when she received a call from her staff telling her what had happened.

The 35-year-old said she was “gutted” after the theft, but relieved that none of her staff were injured.

She said: “I’m glad they didn’t confront the man or I guess it could have been even worse.

“I was just sat at home when I found out what had happened, I’m gutted.”

A Durham Police spokesman said: “A man went into the shop, grabbed the till and then smashed the cash drawer.

“The man was wearing a woollen black hat and ran off up an alley way next to St Mary’s Church.

“He was described as being in his late 20s or early 30s.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Durham Police on the non-emergency 101 number or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.