A Thunder Bay laundromat was held up Thursday evening by a man armed with a syringe.

Thunder Bay police said the incident happened at Barb's Laundromat on North May Street about 6:30 p.m., when a man entered the business and threatened an employee with a needle as he demanded money from the till.

The worker complied with the request and the robber left the building, heading south on May Street.

The employee was not hurt.

Police described the robber as six feet tall, weighing about 210 pounds.

He was wearing a white baseball hat, black sunglasses, a black zip-up jacket, a black t-shirt with white writing on the chest, dark-coloured shorts as well as black and white skateboard-style shoes.

The man also carried a dark green or gray backpack on his back,.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Robbery rates worst in Thunder Bay

On the heels of the laundromat robbery, the Mac's convenience store chain issued a statement saying the robbery rate it has experienced in Thunder Bay is by far the worst of any of its locations in Ontario.

Thunder Bay police reported this week that there have been nine robberies at Mac's outlets so far this year.

In the statement, Mac's said a former employee's suggestion of a buzzer system and a protective enclosure for clerks is not an effective way to deter robberies and only makes shopping more troublesome for customers.

Mac's reported it has reduced overnight hours at eight locations, but decided not to do the same at 11 others because it would inconvenience customers and put up to 20 employees out of work.

"No business in Canada should have to shut its doors because of crime," according to the company's statement.

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Mac's convenience store officials say stores continues to operate with state-of-the-art DVR surveillance systems, with a remote monitoring centre that conducts virtual tours of the stores. The above is a still image from a video that captured a robbery at a Thunder Bay Mac's store in March of 2012. (Supplied)

Mac's went on to detail the steps the company has taken to improve security at its Thunder Bay stores:

  • Invested a significant amount in security and design changes at the stores, such as installing additional cameras, increasing lighting and fencing, and creating enhanced visibility into and out of Thunder Bay stores.
  • Provided extensive on-going robbery prevention training for all employees. All Mac's employees must complete robbery training before they can work in stores, and subsequently take the training every three months to ensure our policies and procedures are top of mind.
  • Continue to operate with a state-of-the-art DVR surveillance system with a remote monitoring centre that conducts virtual tours of the stores, along with a physical security patrol on the midnight shift and reinforced strict cash handling procedures.
  • Work closely with employees, police and elected officials on crime prevention strategies and programs, including Crime Stoppers and a social media initiative called "Macs Crime Busters".