Four robbers armed with knives raided a Rotherham shop - on the day police officers flooded the streets in a crackdown on crime in the suburb.
The crooks struck at a convenience store at St John's Green, Kimberworth Park, on Monday night - the same day that police officers were deployed to the area in a new blitz on crime.
South Yorkshire Police said the men escaped with cash and cigarettes after threatening staff during the robbery.
Earlier that day, officers had been sent to Kimberworth Park as part of Operation Alligator - a new initiative focusing on John’s Green in as well as other 'neighbouring crime hot spots'.
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Nuisance drivers and drug dealers are the focus of the operation as well as and anti-social behaviour.
Police chiefs said the operation was launched 'to tackle key issues raised by members of the community'.
Sergeant Simon Kirkham described the first day of the operation had been 'a success' but details of the shop robbery have now emerged.
He said: "Operation Alligator is all about listening to the public, looking at our incident log and targeting resources and day one was a success."
The operation is due to run over the next few months with areas including Rotherham bus interchange, Rotherham town centre, Clifton Park and Kimberworth to be targeted.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "At around 9.40pm on Monday, March 5 it was reported four men armed with knives had entered a convenience store on St John’s Green, Rotherham and made demands for cash.
"The men threatened members of staff before making off with a quantity of cash and cigarettes.
"An investigation is currently ongoing and officers would like to speak to anyone who may have been in the area at the time.
"The members of staff were not harmed in the robbery."
Inspector Jenny Lax said: "On Monday, March 5 a dedicated anti-social behaviour operation was carried out to target key hotspot areas across central Rotherham.
"During this operation an armed robbery was reported at a convenience store on St John’s Green.
"Officers working to conduct stop and searches immediately responded to the reported incident and quickly arrived at the scene. Unfortunately the offenders had already made off, however officers were able to speak to witnesses who were in the area and review CCTV footage.
"An investigation is now ongoing into the incident and I would like to offer my reassurance that we will always work where possible to keep members of the community safe and to bring offenders to justice."
Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 950 of March 5.
Information can also be given to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.