Gardaí have arrested two men for a series of early-morning raids on shops across Cork.
In one of the raids, a shop worker in her 60s had a knife pulled on her.
The men, in their early and mid-30s and with addresses in Cork City, were arrested around 11.30am yesterday after a series of high-speed pursuits at several locations across the city.
Gardaí had been on the lookout for a black Ford Kuga suspected of being connected to three earlier robberies, two in North Cork and one in the Knockraha area.
The Kuga was spotted in the city and gardaí, backed by armed members of the Regional Support Unit, gave chase.
The vehicle was subsequently found abandoned in the car park of an apartment complex on the Boreenmanna Rd, and two suspects were arrested nearby.
They were detained under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and were being quizzed by detectives at the Bridewell garda station last night.
Gardaí believe the Kuga was stolen from a house in the Brooklodge area of Glanmire, around 5am yesterday. It was connected to three robberies over the following hours.
The first raid occurred at McCarthy’s Topaz filling station, on the Dublin Rd, in Fermoy, at 6.50am. One raider, armed with a knife, entered the shop and stole a quantity of cash.
At 9.16am, a lone raider, wearing a baseball cap, entered the Centra shop in Watergrasshill, walked up to the counter, and demanded cash.
Shopowner Ken Ross said a staff member, a woman in her 60s, thought it was a joke, until the raider brandished a knife and shouted at her to open the cash register.
She stood back and the man rifled through the till, before stealing cash.
A second man was waiting in a black Kuga, which was parked behind the shop, and they both sped off.
The raid, which lasted about a minute, was captured on CCTV.
The third raid occurred at Glenamore Stores, in Knockraha, at around 9.30am. Again, the raider made off with cash.
No-one was injured during the robberies, but staff at all three shops were said to have been extremely shaken by their ordeals.
Gardaí were also last night searching for a black Toyota Avensis, with the registration number 05-C-40974. It was stolen from a house in the Grange area of the city, near Douglas, sometime between 2am and 5am yesterday.
Detectives are trying to establish if the vehicle was connected to the robberies, and whether or not it was used as transport from the city to Glanmire, where the Kuga was stolen.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved