A MAN was arrested on a Hampshire motorway after an armed robber carried out three raids on businesses within minutes of each other.

The man armed with a gun targeted the stores, leaving two people assaulted and a car damaged.

Food, cigarettes and alcohol were stolen in the incidents in Christchurch, Dorset, reported to police at 5.30pm on Saturday.

Officers were called to the Co-op store in Fairmile Road after a robber, wielding a handgun, stole food from the Co-op Food Store. No threats were made and no one was injured.

The raider is then said to have got into a white Ford Fiesta and driven to the Costcutter service station next door where he took wine and cigarettes and left without paying. Again, no one was injured in the incident.

He is then reported to have made his way to the nearby Fairmile Convenience Store. Huseyin Ekinci, the shop owner, said that one of his female employees had just served a regular customer when the offender stormed in, took a packet of crisps and helped himself to three packets of cigarettes behind the counter.

The employee shouted at him to hand back the goods he had stolen.

Having heard the commotion the customer confronted the raider outside the shop. A fight broke out between them before Mr Ekinci’s wife and sister ran outside to break it up.

It is alleged the robber hit Mr Ekinci’s wife. Her sister broke off the raider’s wing mirror using a shoe.

“The worker didn’t get injured but she was really scared,” Mr Ekinci, 46, said.

As the raider then drove away in his Fiesta, it was reported that he was in collision with another vehicle.

Neither managers of the Co-operative Food store or Costcutter were able to comment on the matter at the time of going to press.

A 23-year-old man from London was arrested on the northbound carriageway of the M3 in Hampshire on suspicion of robbery, possession of a firearm and driving offences. A firearm was reportedly seized during his arrest.

Detective Inspector Andrea Power, of Dorset Police, said on Saturday: “Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team will be carrying out patrols in the area over the coming days to offer reassurance to the public and deal with any direct concerns.”

Councillor Trevor Watts, who lives in the area, said: “What worries me is that you don’t expect an armed robbery in as beautiful a place as this. I very much hope it is an isolated incident because otherwise it would be very worrying and something will need to be done.

“I will be speaking to the leader of the council about this. To think I was sat in my home when there was an armed robbery going on is awful.”