A TOWN newsagents has been left with a hefty repair bill after it was targeted by ram raiders.

Two crooks are alleged to have reversed a transit van into the front doors of Premier Express in Trinity Street, Halstead, in a bid to gain access to the shop.

The pair were able to snatch alcohol, cigarettes and cash from the till worth £1,000 before fleeing the scene in the transit used to ram the store.

The raid caused considerable damage to the front doors of the shop, as well as the ceiling inside, and meant the store was closed to customers throughout Monday.

Premier Express estimates it will cost £7,000 to repair the damage caused.

Much of the raid was caught on CCTV and a spokesman for the business is hopeful those responsible will be caught.

He said: "We have footage that they reversed the transit into the doors, waited 20 minutes before they went inside and took everything. They were waiting to see if police would come down but they know how long it takes for them to get here.

“We feel threatened as a business after this and aren't sure if we should stay in Halstead. The owner is ashamed to be here at the moment."

Premier Express was targeted by criminals back in September when a cashier was assaulted and another threatened in two separate incidents.

The business was critical of Essex Police's response to the incidents and has once again questioned why the force took several hours to respond to the ram raid, which took place just after 12am on Monday.

A spokesman added: "We had the glass company, repair man and newspaper all come down before the police.

“When we reported it, we were told they didn’t have enough officers which is the most irritating part.

“We want to follow the procedures, policy and regulations but if they can’t police properly around here then we will have to start taking control."

Essex Police has confirmed it is investigating the raid and suggested its response to the incident was inhibited because the ram raid was not reported directly to 999.

A spokesman said: "We received information through 101 non-emergency number that suspects drove a vehicle into the shop before leaving with bottles of alcohol.

"Our investigation is progressing and we have reviewed CCTV of the incident and carried out intelligence checks. We are now trying to locate an individual of interest."

Anyone with information is asked to call Braintree police station on 101 quoting crime reference 42/161214/18.

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.