Ballymena: Man tied to drinks machine in armed robbery

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A man was tied to a drinks machine with his own belt after an armed robbery at a County Antrim petrol station.

Four men, one of them armed with a handgun, held up the service station on the Crankill Road, Ballymena, at around 02:00 GMT on Friday.

At one point, a member of staff was ordered to serve a customer while the gunman hid behind the counter.

Police said the men were dressed in black coats and dark bottoms and wearing white ski masks and gloves.

Charity box

Detective Sergeant Peter Crothers said the gunman "produced clear plastic bin bags and instructed the employee to fill them with cigarettes. He also took a sum of cash and the contents of a charity box".

The staff member was then tied up with his own belt and a length of wire to the drinks machine.

He managed to free himself after a period of time and raise the alarm.

The police said they would like to speak to the female customer who unwittingly entered the service station during the incident.

They do not believe she was in any way involved in the robbery.

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