EMPLOYEES have been left terrified after men stealing cigarettes targeted shops in Widnes.

Detectives have now released CCTV images of three men they want to speak to in connection with the incidents.

They occurred at the Avondale Store in Sunningdale at about 8.30pm on Friday, December 21 and at the Spar shop on Ditchfield Road shortly after 6.30pm on Thursday, December 6.

On both occasions a small group of men wearing hooded tops with their hoods up entered the stores while they were open.

They then stole cigarettes from behind the counter before fleeing in a white Kia Sportage.

Enquiries into the incidents are ongoing and detectives are urging anyone who recognises the three men in the CCTV images or has information regarding their identities to come forward.

Detective constable James Simpson said: “These were frightening incidents for the employees and customers who were in the stores at the time and we are determined to catch the offenders and bring them to justice.

“We believe that the incidents are linked and as part of our enquiries we are keen to identify and speak to the three men in the CCTV images.

“If you think you recognise any of them or know who they are please call the team here at Widnes Police Station on 101, quoting IML 275357, give us the details online or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“I would also like to appeal directly to the three men in the CCTV images to get in touch.”