altBingo players were left shocked after a group of armed robbers targeted their Durham bingo hall, escaping with thousands of pounds. The gang of three, carrying at least one machete, stormed into the Top Ten Bingo hall in Durham City on 19th February, late in the evening, terrifying both players and staff. The gang were all male; two were armed and forced two female bingo players, a female cleaner, the hall’s male assistant manager and another gentlemen to lie flat on the ground. They then forced the forty year old assistant manager to open a safe from which they stole a large amount of cash and ran off. The attack took place at around 9.40pm just before the hall’s usual closing time and it’s believed the gang spent less than ten minutes getting what they wanted.

Local Detective Inspector Carmen told the local press that it was fortunate no one was injured but pointed out this didn’t detract from the frightening experience those inside had suffered. He also explained that they’re not yet sure exactly how much money was stolen but it was described as ‘substantial’ by the Detective Inspector and is believed to have reached into the thousands.

Unfortunately, the only descriptions of the gang so far released describe them as all male and wearing dark clothing with their faces covered but Detective Inspector Carmen is urging anybody who may know something to come forward still.

The manager of Top Ten Bingo hall, Malcolm Evans, was not present on the night of the attack but spoke on behalf of his staff describing them as ‘shaken up’ and had taken on the responsibility of trying to reassure them and ease their fears about returning to work.

There’s been a recent spate across the country of attacks on bingo halls, perhaps in part due to the mini resurgence of popularity of high street bingo that’s been seen in 2012. As bingo halls regain their popularity and also as some chains are extending their opening hours, there may be a need to step up security. Many of the larger branded companies do adopt stringent security measures; though sadly as is the case in any organisation where cash is involved, it only takes one insider to jeopardise security completely. Perhaps the day will arrive when bingo halls employ even more security staff to work through the night to ensure their sites and their customers remain happy and safe.

Luckily Raids such as this are still a rarity in the industry.