ARMED robbers made off with a substantial amount of cash after threatening staff with a knife at a village shop.

It is the second time in as many weeks that McColls, in West Auckland, near Bishop Auckland, has been targeted.

At about 9.55pm on Thursday, February 28, just five minutes before the convenience store was due to close, three men wearing boiler suits and with their faces covered, entered the premises.

Two female members of staff, one in her 50s and the other in her 60s, were forced to open the safe before the men grabbed the cash and made off in the direction of the village green.

They were unhurt but are said to have been left extremely distressed by what happened.

Staff opened up late today (Friday, March 1) but it was business as usual as they tried to piece together what happened.

Residents living close to the shop spoke of their concern of the news.

One woman, who asked not to be named, said: “This is the second time recently. It was broken into during the night a few weeks ago and all the cigarettes were taken.

“It is a bit worrying.”

Another witness said: “I never heard anything but the police knocked on the door just after it happened.

“The newspapers were still outside when I left the house this morning though and the shop was closed.

A man who lives nearby added: “I saw it was closed so I presumed something must have happened.

“They have gone through the front door both times. They were targeted three times in a row a couple of years ago.

“I hope they catch whoever did this.”

Detective Constable Mark Forster, of Bishop Auckland CID, said: "Although no-one was injured during the robbery the staff have been left extremely shaken by this incident."

"I would appeal to anyone who knows anything about this robbery to come forward so we can bring the offenders to justice."

Anyone with information is asked to call DC Forster on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800-555-111.