16/12/2012 04:27 GMT

Police Plea To Armed Hampshire Robber

Police have appealed to a suspected armed robber to give himself up after a woman was kidnapped for a time and driven around in her own car.

The man approached a house in Rookes Lane, Lymington, Hampshire, yesterday morning, and pointed a gun to threaten the people who live there - a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s.

The man received a minor head injury during a confrontation with the suspect inside the house, where money was demanded. No shots were fired but about £100 in cash was stolen.

The robber then stole the couple's car, a silver/grey Peugeot 207 convertible, which was driven erratically at speed around the local area.

The woman was forced to travel in the front passenger seat of the car, but was not injured and was returned home around 15 minutes later.

The suspect drove away into Newenham Road, where he abandoned the car at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson said: "I am appealing directly to the suspect to consider the consequences of his actions.

"From our initial inquiries, we understand you might be facing personal and painful circumstances in which you feel trapped and desperate for money. However, think long and hard about the distress and fear you are causing.

"I am imploring you to explore your conscience and do the right thing by contacting police to tell us where you are before you make any more reckless choices, which could hurt innocent people. Please phone us on 101.

"My appeal extends to any family or friends who think they may know this person or their current whereabouts. Please contact the police with what you know about this man.

"We appreciate this can be an exceptionally difficult moral decision for a loved one, but information can be given anonymously by phoning the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555111."

Police said they were linking the incident to a robbery on December 5 at Brockenhurst railway station.

Chief Inspector Rowlinson said: "I am calling on the community to be alert in spotting and reporting any suspicious behaviour or any information about the suspect's identity or location.

"We cannot confirm at this time whether the gun seen by the couple was real or an imitation firearm, but my advice to members of the public is to phone police on 999 immediately if you see someone matching the suspect's description. Do not approach him; his behaviour is unpredictable, and he could become distressed and agitated if approached."

He also appealed for help from the driver of a 4x4 car, saying: "We remain particularly keen to trace and speak with the driver of a sandy-coloured 4x4 car.

"This motorist is an important witness as it is reported the 4x4 car stopped in West Lane in Lymington to allow the Peugeot 207 to drive past while the robber was at the wheel.

"The woman has told police she waved at the 4x4 driver, who waved back, but did not appear to realise the reality of the situation inside the Peugeot."

The suspect was described as white, 35-55 years old, 5ft 10in, of average build, with dark hair. He was wearing a dark blue or black beanie hat, which was folded up.

He had a pair of swimming goggles over his eyes, with a blue rim and strap, and a tartan scarf over his nose and mouth. He was wearing a fluorescent jacket and had dark trousers and black casual shoes, which might have been trainers. He also had white gloves, which had dirty fingers.

Mr Rowlinson said: "This was a shocking crime committed against a couple who were subjected to an unprovoked, terrifying attack in their own home and car. I would like to praise their immense courage in dealing with the robber who was violent towards them."

The suspect, witnesses or anyone with information are asked to contact CID at Southampton Central police station by phoning 101 and quoting Operation Prenton. Minicom users can phone 18001 101. Information can be given anonymously by phoning Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.