Shop owners in Bayelsa are now the target of armed robbers in the state. 

People call them hungry robbers and they have increased in number after the flood that ravaged farmlands and forced businesses to close down.

In recent weeks, there have been several cases of petty thieves raiding small business owners in communities.

Over the weekend, residents of Justice Tabai Street located at Edepie were harassed by criminals.

A shop owner in the street, who specialises in selling alcohol and cigarettes, entertained a large number of male customers.

Several customers came in, bought items and left while some stayed for a few minutes to enjoy their drinks. 

Others stayed longer sat round big plastic tables, drinking, smoking and chatting noisily.

Suddenly, two gun shots were heard, followed by a loud scream and then silence. 

Startled customers and passers-by stood still, in an attempt to figure out the direction the sound came from.

While they listened in fear, a third sound came, this time closer to their location forcing people to scamper for safety. The rush that resulted in a stampede. 

During that confusion, three armed boys ran into the shop surrounded the shop owner, his family and some customers.

While they searched and stole from people in the shop, passers-by were not spared.

Money realised from sales, mobile phones, a bucket of boiled eggs, loaves of bread, sachets of alcoholic drinks, wraps of groundnut and some wraps of 'fufu' were stolen.

During the robbery, the local vigilante men safeguarding Austin Dressmann (a nearby) street, raised alarm.

As residents became aware of the incident, the robbers ran away with their loot while shooting sporadically to scare some men whom had mobilised to chase them.

An eyewitness, Kemepado Israel, told Bounce News that he recognised two boys amongst the thieves.

"We drank with two of them that evening.

"They must have come for surveillance," he added.

Weeping, the shop owner, who would not want her name mentioned, told Bounce News that she lost 40,000 Naira to the thieves she described as devils. 

“She said the thieves knew the position of things in my shop.

"They operated as if they own the shop.

"One went straight to where l kept my purse and bag containing recharge cards and took them," she narrated.

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She, however, said it would be useless to report the incident to the police, as she lost confidence in them a long time ago.

“Even if l report the matter, nothing will happen to the robbers," she added.

When contacted, the Police Spokesman, DSP Asinim Butswat told Bounce News that the failure of victims to report the cases to the police usually undermines their duties.

“That has always been our major challenge.

“Residents hardly report robbery cases to the police and we can't act without information," he stressed.

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