THE same gang of robbers could be behind three knife raids at shops in Bolton, police have revealed.

Three robberies have been carried out in shops in Astley Bridge and Halliwell in just over a week.

Now, police are investigating if the three incidents — which happened around the same time and not far from each other — could be linked.

The robberies took place at Firwood Service Station, Nisa Local in Ashworth Lane, Astley Bridge, and Halliwell Late Night Pharmacy.

The first, at Firwood Service Station, happened at 9.45pm on Wednesday, September 16, when three men in balaclavas and hooded tops held a knife to the throat of a shop assistant and demanded cash.

They fled with about £1,500 and jumped over a wall. They are believed to have got into a car. During the raid one of the robbers was heard to call another Paul.

The second raid took place at Nisa Local, which has been targeted three times in the last four months. It was a week after the Firwood Service Station robbery, on Wednesday last week at around 9pm.

Two men in hooded tops, armed with a knife, demanded money.

One shop assistant was dragged to the back of the shop and the robber threatened to stab her with a knife, while the other assistant behind the counter swung a rounders bat at the other robber. The pair fled empty handed.

The following evening, at about 9.45pm, two masked men threatened two members of staff at Halliwell Late Night Pharmacy with a knife. They ordered the female assistant to lie on the floor, while the man was told to put his hands on his head. He was then made to open the till.

The raiders stuffed about £1,000 into a JD sports bag and fled when a family walked in to the shop.

Det Insp Gary Smith, of Bolton CID, said: “We are examining CCTV footage and are again appealing to the public for any information. Someone must know who these people are and we urge you to contact us.”

Anyone with information should call Bolton CID on 0161 856 5740 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.