Tuesday, 31 January 2012

An eyewitness' account of the armed robbery in King's Lynn

Strolling along Norfolk Street just before 10am to go to the Post Office to pay my road tax, I never in a million years could have predicted the situation I was about to find myself in. Just as I reached the Post Office, I noticed a silver Mercedes pull up outside Francis Wain jewellery shop and the driver put on his hazard lights. "That's strange," I thought. "This is a pedestrianised road, surely the shop gets deliveries at night or through a back door?"

Then in the blink of an eye, a gang of men in white hooded tops raced out of the vehicle and started smashing glass with sledgehammers before stealing items from the shop. For about 10 seconds, I was quite literally frozen to the spot as the usually busy shopping street began to empty with people either running away screaming or diving into the closest shop to hide. As people continued to brush past me to get away, I noticed a few people were already on their mobile phones and talking to the emergency services. The driver of the silver Mercedes then started pumping smoke out of the vehicle to block CCTV footage and shouted at anyone still stood watching the robbery unfold.

The next thing I knew, the men were clambering back into the vehicle with their pockets loaded with jewellery, the driver put his foot down on the gas and headed straight towards me. Thankfully, I managed to dive for cover as the vehicle sped off towards Austin Street. The silver Mercedes was later found in nearby North Lynn. I was absolutely stunned and just looked around in utter disbelief as people slowly emerged from the shops they had raced into moments earlier. I then heard police sirens in the distance as the shop's shutters kicked into life and came down and Norfolk Street returned to its normal busy self.

When a lone Norfolk Police car pulled up outside the shop a few moments later, I heard one woman shout: "You took your time". The officer responded by saying they had been "rather busy" trying to catch the armed robbers, which seemed to satisfy the lady as she walked towards Waterstones. After checking my phone to see what pictures I had taken, I walked up to one of the members of staff to give her the registration plate of the silver Mercedes before walking into the Post Office to sort out my road tax and thinking to myself: "Did that really just happen?!"

Overall it was an extraordinary couple of minutes. One minute Norfolk Street was packed, the next minute people were running, screaming and diving into shops and then moments later everything returned to normal. Thinking back to this morning now, I know the raid only took a matter of moments but in my mind everything has now slowed down and it feels like it went on for more than an hour. It is not everyday you see something as horrific as this and I'm sure I will remember what happened today for a long time to come.



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