POLICE are stepping up patrols in Greenock to reassure the public following two robberies in the town.

It comes as concerned staff at William Hill betting shop in Nicolson Street raised the alarm after a man entered the premises acting suspiciously before making off.

Officers say they plan to visit businesses and retailers in the town centre as they continue their hunt for the masked men who held up U Save in Belville Street and the Betfred shop in East Crawford Street.

In both cases, terrified staff members were threatened with a weapon and money was taken.

Detective Ross Macdonald, of Greenock CID, is appealing to local businesses to be on their guard while they work to catch the culprits.

He said: "We are sending officers out to have an increased presence and visibility in and around the town. We want to reassure people they are safe.

"We would also ask that local businesses are vigilant.

"If they notice people loitering outside or inside their premises, or acting suspiciously in any way, then call us and we will respond."

Police were called to William Hill in Nicolson Street at 9.30am on Thursday morning.

Detective Sergeant Ross Macdonald added: "We can confirm there was incident.

"Staff raised the alarm after a man entered and then ran off. Police were called."

At this stage detectives are keeping an open mind as to whether all three incidents are connected.

Last Saturday afternoon a man entered U Save in Belville Street, held a member of staff at gunpoint and made off with a cash sum.

The second robbery took place on Wednesday afternoon in the nearby Betfred bookmakers.

A man with a concealed weapon entered the shop, jumped the counter and demanded staff hand over money.

The culprit then made off in the direction of Barnhill Street, with a customer giving chase.

Clothes worn during the robbery were later found dumped in a nearby lane.

Detective Sergeant Ross Macdonald said: "We have had a good response from members of the public to the Betfred robbery and enquiries are continuing."