A desperate thief went to extraordinary lengths to rob a post office in Oldham.
In what is believed to have been an act of desperation on Christmas Eve, the thief targeted the Watchcote Post Office on Oldham Road in Failsworth at about 11am.
The man went into the Post Office and initially demanded money from the staff working behind the counter.
He then picked up a National Lottery ticket stand and flung it towards the glass screen in an attempt to shatter the glass and get behind the counter.
Although it caused considerable damage, the screen did not break so the thief then began to forcibly remove the ceiling tiles, allowing him to climb through the gap in the ceiling, behind the glass and eventually drop into the secure area.
By this time the staff had gone upstairs and activated the panic alarm. The thief then grabbed a small amount of cash which was on the counter, climbed back through the gap in the ceiling and fled.
He is described as being white, of a pale complexion, about 6ft tall, of a slim build and in his 20s. He was also said to have wide, pale blue eyes and was wearing a black woollen balaclava and thick black gloves.
Police are now appealing to anyone with information to come forward.
In particular, police want to hear from a man whom it is thought the thief spoke to before he committed the robbery, during which he was alleged to have said something along the lines of “I have no money, may as well do the Post Office”.
Detective Constable Tony Anwas said: “This was a poorly planned robbery, and given the ham-fisted execution and the comments we believe he made, this smacks of an act of pure desperation on Christmas Eve.
“However, whatever his financial circumstances or whether this time of year made this man feel worse, there can be absolutely no justification for smashing up a local post office to pieces and frightening the staff on duty just to get his hands on some cash.
“Because of the ill-conceived, last minute nature of the crime, we believe this man is local and therefore someone may well know who is responsible.
“If you do have any information about who may have committed this robbery, or witnessed this man going into or out of the post office, or you were the person this thief spoke to immediately before the robbery, then please come forward and speak to us.
“Post Offices are the heartbeats of our local community and are much-loved and cherished facilities. We cannot allow people to smash up such places just because of financial desperation or seasonal despair so if you do know who is responsible, do the right thing and help us catch them.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.