TWO men are in custody after armed robbers on mopeds sparked a police chase through Southend.

Yesterday, the Echo reported how a woman was threatened and robbed at gunpoint by two men on a moped in Priory Park shortly before 4pm on Tuesday.

Essex Police has now confirmed they believe the incident was linked to an earlier robbery where a cyclist was knocked off his bike by two men on a moped before being robbed of his headphones and bag at about 2pm.

Officers searched the area initially without success before receiving information shortly before 5pm that the moped was in Pantile Avenue.

The rider of the moped sped off, travelling through alleyways and the wrong way along a number of roads before dumping the moped in Royal Artillery Way and making a run for it.

Later, a 20-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of robbery and possession of firearms offences.

Yesterday, a second man, 23, was arrested on suspicion of theft of a pedal cycle, two offences of robbery and possession of a firearm with intent. Both men remain in custody.

Meanwhile, Supt Jonathan Baldwin has reassured the community and said the force is tackling an “emerging trend” of offenders using mopeds.

He added: “Thankfully, incidents like this are rare in Southend and my officers reacted quickly to arrest two men on suspicion of these offences. This happened in the middle of the day near to a popular park and must have had a significant impact on the victims, who were just going about their daily business.

“I want to reassure the community my officers will continue to work on intelligence, and knowledge from within the community, to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“My teams are currently focussed on dealing with the emerging trend of offenders using mopeds and then to evade police. We will take the necessary measures to bring these criminals to justice in order to protect our communities from harm.

“If you believe someone to be in possession of a gun or an imitation firearm or have any information that would assist us deal with those who commit crime whilst riding mopeds, please call on 101.”

Martin Terry, Southend Council’s member for community safety, added: “This is deeply distressing for anyone to experience and it underlines the point that although we now have a town centre team, we still have to consider the rest of the borough. We simply don’t have enough police officers on the streets and this is not a criticism of the force. I’ve only been in the job a week but that’s what I am trying to improve.”