MASKED raiders have stolen ‘a large quantity’ of cigarettes in a pre-dawn attack on a Burton supermarket.
At least five balaclava-clad burglars targeted Asda’s Octagon shopping centre store at 5.20am yesterday.
Inspector Tyrone Kerr, of Burton Police, said the raiders broke in by removing a pane of glass from the supermarket’s front door.
He said they then bagged the fags from the in-store kiosk before fleeing the scene in a vehicle.
Detectives are keen to hear from anyone who saw a blue Lexus 200 shown by CCTV cameras to have been in the area at the time.
“There were staff in Asda at the time of the offence,” Insp Kerr said. “Quite what their details are, we don’t know.
“We are still making inquiries and reviewing all the CCTV.” No-one inside the store was approached or injured.
Insp Kerr said his officers were awaiting details from Asda about the quantity and value of cigarettes taken.
However, he confirmed no other items were stolen in what he believed to be an organised attack.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman later said ‘a large quantity’ of cigarettes had been taken.
Leeds-based Asda, part of the giant Walmart group, declined to provide details about the attack while the police were investigating.
A spokesman said: “We are working with the police as they investigate the incident and can reassure customers the store is open as usual.”
Store staff cordoned off the raid scene and attached copies of a notice reading: “This kiosk will not be open today. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
As an employee with a radio stood guard, a police forensics officer hunted for clues.
Several blinds were pulled down over racks normally crammed with cigarettes.
Although plenty of packets remained on the lower shelves, those within easy reach appeared to have been plundered.
Several boxes also lay strewn across the floor.
Duty manager James Beardsley declined to comment and no-one from The Octagon shopping centre was available for interview.
Michael Rodgers, who represents the Burton ward on East Staffordshire Borough Council for the Liberal Democrats, said: “It’s very shocking and very disturbing that such an incident has occurred in the centre of Burton.
“I hope the police manage to catch the culprits before they plan any other serious offences.
“This is not the sort of thing we want to see in Burton.”
Police have urged anybody with any information about the raid to contact them by calling 101 and quoting serial number 76 of November 8.