STAFF at a Hereford chip shop laughed at an armed robber as he demanded cash - causing him to leave empty-handed.

Two women working at The Welcome Fish Bar on Widemarsh Street were ordered to fill a bag up with money by the man wearing a balaclava at around 6.50pm on Monday night.

However, their reaction baffled the robber who picked up the bag and left.

"The man came in wearing a balaclava with his face covered and all the girls could see were his eyes," said co-owner Ann Mann.

"He threw his bag on the counter and said: 'Fill it up with the money.' He held and pointed the gun to the young girls working and cocked the gun back. The two girls working laughed at him and with that he grabbed the bag and ran.

"One just thought that the other must have known him and that it was a joke. Afterwards, when they realised what had happened they were a bit traumatised."

Mrs Mann, who has co-owned the shop for 16 years, said the man arrived and left the premises on foot.

"Fair play to the girls for laughing at him," added Mrs Mann.

"He didn't know what to do then as I don't think he was expecting two people to stand and laugh at him. He thought they would put the money in the bag but it didn't go to plan for him.

"The police were particularly good: they acted quickly and did their job."

No-one was harmed during the incident.

A second incident is reported to have taken place at around 8.30pm the same evening.

The victim, a man in his 20s, was approached near to the car park on Greyfriars Avenue, by an unknown man who asked for a cigarette.

The offender is believed to have threatened the man, with what is reported to be a gun, and demanded he hand over any money he had. The offender made off with a sum of cash.

The victim was also uninjured.

Detective Inspector Jonathan Roberts, of West Mercia Police, said: "Enquires are ongoing at this time to determine whether these two incidents are linked.

“A BB gun was later recovered as part of the investigation.

“Incidents such as these are rare, and we would like to reassure the public that a full investigation is underway.”

A 30-year-old man from Hereford and a 26-year-old woman from Hereford were arrested on suspicion of robbery. Both remain in custody.