Police have released a number of CCTV images following robberies against businesses in Leighton Buzzard, Linslade and Bedford.
At around 9.15pm on Thursday (November 12) a man targeted Coral bookmakers in North Street, Leighton Buzzard.
The man, believed to be carrying a knife, was verbally aggressive and instructed the store workers to empty the tills and safe, before making off on foot with cash.
The culprit is described as white, around 6ft 2ins, aged in his 30s and of slim build, wearing a black hooded coat.
On Sunday (November 15), two offenders entered the Shell garage in Leighton Road, Linslade, wearing balaclavas. They threatened staff and stole cigarettes and the till, containing cash.
The following day (Monday, November 16) a man entered the Post Office in Library Walk, Bedford, at around 6.40am wearing a high-vis jacket and crash helmet and pretended he was from Customs and Excise. He had left his motorcycle running outside and when store workers questioned him, he left.
A short while later at around 7.35am, a man in similar attire demanded cash from the store worker at Martins newsagents in Avon Drive, Bedford. He was thought to be carrying a gun but again left empty-handed.
Det Insp Zara Brown said: “We have seen a recent rise in offences of this kind and would urge the public and businesses not to worry.
“We take these incidents extremely seriously and are working hard behind the scenes to track down those responsible.
“We are visiting bookmakers and convenience stores to provide reassurance and ask for their support in utilising crime prevention measures to target-harden their premises against senseless acts of this kind.
“I would appeal for anyone who has any information on any of these incidents, or recognises those pictured, to come forward with information.”
Call 101 with information, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Advice for businesses
> Business owners and staff, including those at bookmakers and convenience stores, are being urged not to fight back in the rare event of an attack, and to be reassured that officers are stepping up their response to this distressing and violent crime.
> All commercial properties are also being urged to review their security measures and ensure they have CCTV in place and it is working, with signs to let those who enter the store know that it is in use.
> Staff can also keep a record of those who enter the store who they believe to be acting suspiciously, and are encouraged to report such activity to police on 101.