A man carrying some sort of pistol has robbed or tried to rob a number of victims in Bexhill and Hastings over the past week.
No one has been hurt in any of the incidents, but several people have handed over cash and mobile phones because of the implied threat.
While concerned that the public should be aware of the robberies, officers have reassured people that robust action is being taken in response.
Detective Inspector Gavin Patch, of East Sussex CID, said: “Clearly this type of offence has the potential to frighten, but it’s also important to note that no one has been injured and not every encounter has resulted in loss.
“We have deployed extra patrols and resources in the area and we’re determined to trace and detain the offender.
“It appears that the incidents may be linked and we’d ask anyone who may have seen anything suspicious or who may have any information to get in touch.”
The latest occurrence was shortly before 11pm on Wednesday (March 23) in Rye Road, Hastings, when a man was approached by another man demanding he handed over his possessions.
The offender fled after his intended victim laughed off the demand.
Earlier a man was approached at a bus stop by a man demanding he handed over his mobile phone and threatening to shoot him in the leg at around 9.35pm in Sedlescombe Road South, Hastings.
The intended victim ran off but saw the offender getting into a car some distance away.
A pizza delivery driver was approached in his vehicle by a man who tapped on the window with what he believed to be a gun and demanded he hand over his mobile phone and money in Links Drive, Bexhill, at 9.45pm on Friday, March 18.
Then three German tourists walking in Magdalen Road, Bexhill, were approached by a man coming from Rotherfield Avenue at around 10pm on Saturday, March 20.
He demanded property while showing what appeared to be a gun tucked in his waistband.
Two of the men handed over mobile phones and the third a quantity of cash.
A man walking along Burry Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, was confronted by another man who pointed what appeared to be a handgun at him and demanded that he handed over his mobile phone and cash before ordering him to return the way he had come on Tuesday (March 22) .
Less than an hour later an attempt was made to rob a man walking along London Road, Bexhill.
A car pulled up beside him and a passenger in the vehicle produced a gun and demanded he hand over his mobile phone.
The man ran off and no attempt was made by the offender to pursue him.
Detective Constable Aydin Misiri, part of the investigation team, said: “There is a similar description of the offender in all these incidents – a white or mixed race man, 5’9”, late 20s or early 30s, of skinny build, with a short beard or stubble and wearing dark clothes.”
Anyone who has seen anything suspicious or who may have other information is asked to email email@example.com or phone 101 , quoting Operation Longhorn.
Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit: www.crimestoppers-uk.org
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