Scrap dealers warned to be vigilant after raid in Appleby which could be linked to Kendal robbery

The Westmorland Gazette: Investigating officer DCI Lee Johnson, of Cumbria Police Investigating officer DCI Lee Johnson, of Cumbria Police

A MAN was tied up and beaten in his home in a terrifying attack that police say may be linked to a previous raid.

Both of the victims are scrap metal dealers.

Chris Sowerby, from Appleby, was ordered to hand over cash by three masked men on Friday.

They are believed to have been carrying pickaxe handles or baseball bats.

Mr Sowerby, of East of Eden Scrap Metals, was watching television, just metres from his Station Road business, when his home was raided by the gang wearing balaclavas.

He suffered severe bruising and swelling and was left distressed by the ordeal which began at around 8.30pm, police said.

And they revealed that the robbery bore similarities to one in Kendal on October 2, when pensioner Bryan Gregg – who runs a scrap metal business near Endmoor – and his partner were tied up by men at their Castle Oval home.

The robbers stole £10,000 from Mr Gregg but fled empty-handed from Mr Sowerby’s property on Friday evening after he managed to escape and raise the alarm.

Scrap dealers across Cumbria are now being urged to be extra vigilant.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Johnson said: “Police have been working closely with scrap metal dealers to advise them about the need to harden premises and home addresses in light of the recent incidents.”

He said Friday’s robbery was a ‘frightening ordeal’ for the victim and officers were making a number of inquiries to establish who was involved.

Police have already seized a green Ford Focus Estate in Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, which was seen by witnesses in Appleby at the time.

Residents took to social media to report a large police presence in the Eden town after teams of officers raced to the scene.

DCI Johnson explained: “The men tied the victim up and threatened him with a view to identifying property in his house. During the ordeal, the victim managed to escape.

“As a result of this, the offenders fled and witnesses identified a vehicle – a green Ford Focus estate – believed to have been involved.”

One of the offenders has been described as a slim, white man in his early 20s, around 5ft 8” tall with short yellow-blond hair.

DCI Johnson said there were similarities between this offence and the robbery in Kendal and urged anyone with information, or who saw anyone acting suspiciously in and around Appleby between on Friday evening to contact police.

“I would like to reassure people that Cumbria is one of the safest places in the country and continues to be and I am confident that we will identify these offenders and, ultimately, bring them to justice,” he added.

Information should go to CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.

Mr Sowerby declined to comment about the incident when contacted by the Gazette.

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