POLICE are hunting three men who snatched a till from a post office counter only minutes after a newsagent foiled a similar attempt in his shop a few miles away.

Police were called to the post office, in Bank Top, Bishop Middleham, County Durham, at about 10.20am yesterday – only ten minutes after receiving a 999 call from Cottage News, in Bede Terrace, Ferryhill.

A silver car with three men inside seen outside the post office is being linked to the earlier Ferryhill raid.

A police spokeswoman said: “One of the men got out, ran inside, snatched the till and ran out again.

“The postmaster, a man in his late 50s, was at the back of the premises and another member of staff, a woman in her late 40s, was in the shop at the time. “No threats were made to either party and no one was injured. It is not known how much money the till contained.

Thomas Harbron, who runs Cottage News, in Ferryhill, said it was the second time till-snatchers had struck his business in a fortnight.

The 61-year-old former bricklayer, said a man went into his shop yesterday and made towards the till as if to pay for something, but instead grabbed it and tried to run off.

The grandfather climbed over the counter and tried to block his exit.

The man dropped the till, smashing it, and ran off.

Mr Harbron, who has now installed CCTV in his shop, told the man: “You’re not getting this one.”

Last Tuesday, a man who went in to the shop to buy an ice pop grabbed the till and ran off, pulling about 30ft of electrical cable with him.

Mr Harbron said: “He seemed to know what he was doing, he just yanked the till as hard as he could, went out and got into a car.

“I didn’t see a car this time round, when I got on the front and there was no one there.”

Two men have been arrested in connection with last Tuesday’s incident.

Anyone with information regarding yesterday’s raids is asked to call Detective Constable Neil Thompson on 0345- 60-60-365 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.