DETECTIVES are investigating three apparently linked robberies in which shop staff reported being threatened with a syringe of what was claimed to be “blood” or “acid”.

Officers are also conducting inquiries into an alleged theft which they believe is linked to the suspected robberies.

A 42-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of three counts of robbery and one count of theft.

The incidents were reported to have taken place at Tesco Express, Longlands Road in Middlesbrough just before 8pm on Friday, the One Stop Shop on Kings Road, North Ormesby at 2.40pm on Saturday, and at Cooplands Bakery, Norfolk Place in Middlesbrough at 3.10pm also on Saturday.

Police also received a report of a theft of confectionary at Annabelle’s in North Ormesby at around 2.45pm on Saturday and the description of the suspect matched the ones from the robberies.

A spokesperson for Cleveland Police said: “Thankfully no members of shop staff suffered any injury during any of these incidents however they were left extremely shaken. An amount of cash and goods was taken during the Tesco Express incident.”

Police say footage of one of the incidents shows the suspect may have been in possession of a knife.

Police had earlier issued an appeal to trace a man they wanted to speak to in connection with the incidents.

A spokesperson said a 42-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of three counts of robbery and one count of theft as detectives continue to investigate several alleged incidents in shops across Middlesbrough on Friday and Saturday.

Inquiries are on-going.

A number of officers remain in the affected areas conducting inquiries and providing reassurance.

Anyone else with information is asked to contact Cleveland Police as a matter of urgency via the 101 number quoting Ref 077333

Anyone who does not want to speak to police, pass information anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers online at or by phoning 0800 555 111.”