The Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad has warned that armed criminals are increasingly targeting high street businesses such as c-stores and CTNs. Latest figures just released by the Flying Squad show the number of robberies at c-stores, CTNs and off licences were all at record levels last year. The Flying Squad only deals with commercial robberies "where a firearm is produced or intimated". While other categories, such as bank and building society robberies, were down considerably last year, c-store robberies were up 48% to 99, off licences were up 27% to 146 and CTNs were up 14% to 65. Crime prevention co-ordinator Alan Townsend said: "There has been a move from traditional targets like banks to more vulnerable high street targets. "The fact that we have a 24-hour society where businesses such as c-stores open for long hours provides greater opportunities to commit crime. "I'm not saying they shouldn't open at night, but owners and managers need to realise it increases the risk of this type of crime and take precautions." Townsend highlighted the experience of petrol forecourts where, since an initiative by trade body the British Oil Security Syndicate, there has been a steady decrease in robberies. He said: "Petrol stations have night hatches for the most vulnerable times and this is something more c-stores should consider." The Flying Squad has also teamed up with police forces across the south of England to crack down on the criminals who are targeting high street stores. This week it sent out details of Operation Belett to retail group's security officers. It will be encouraging staff to report any suspicious activity. Townsend said: "Often criminals check out targets ­ two or three people may hang around in a car outside the store, someone comes in and asks for something ridiculous, or sometimes staff can instinctively tell something is not quite right. "We want them to report any suspicions to us and we will check the details against known robbers and suspects." {{NEWS }}