Police have stepped up patrols in Oldham following a number of violent robberies.
Eighteen robberies have taken place in and around the town since 15 June 2013 and officers believe that two different groups of offenders may be responsible for a number of them.
Operation Manila has been set up to combat the problem, and residents are encouraged to share any concerns they may have with officers on patrol in the affected areas.
One group appears to be responsible for four robberies in the Alexandra area, where the offenders are using knives or machetes to target vulnerable people. The victims here have said that they were attacked by young white men.
One of the victims was a pregnant woman. She was walking with a friend on Furniss Avenue about 5pm on Friday 21 June 2013, both of whom were pushing their children in prams. A man came from behind the pair and tried to put something over their faces. His accomplice pointed a machete at the stomach of the pregnant woman. The pair then searched through the prams, stealing cash and the victims’ mobile phones.
There have also been four robberies in the St Mary’s district. A number of young Asian men have on some occasions used violence to steal.
As part of the operation, two boys have been arrested on suspicion of robbery and bailed pending further enquiries. Inspector Jim Troisi said: “First and foremost, we would like to reassure our communities that we are doing everything we can to bring those responsible to justice. The operation we have launched includes thoroughly investigating the robberies that have taken place.
“While some of these robberies may be linked, and indeed there may be more than one group carrying out offences, we are committed to delivering justice for each person who has recently been a victim of robbery in or around Oldham. However, we have also stepped up patrols and lots of work is happening on the ground to help people feel safe as they go about their daily business.
“We are appealing for witnesses and would urge anyone with any information to call us.”
Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 0161 856 8927 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.