A MOTHER-of-three feared for her life when a robber barged into her home and took thousands of pounds worth of Asian heritage jewellery, including the gold from around her neck.

Sonia Ijaz said the balaclava-clad intruder ripped necklaces and chains from her person, before dragging her around her Accrington home and forcing her to hand over £25,000 of wedding jewels.

The 24-year-old nurse, who had been alone in the house, said she feared she would be ‘raped or murdered’ by the man, as she noticed a metal object in his pocket which looked like a knife or gun.

Police have appealed for witnesses to help their hunt for the offender, who also stole two iPhones, a laptop and £850 in cash.

It is the latest in a string of Asian jewellery thefts across East Lancashire, including a raid on a home in Arkwright Street, Ightenhill, Burnley, before Christmas where a man was tied up and subjected to death threats.

And in September, detectives said they were looking at whether a spate of similar thefts were linked.

Mrs Ijaz, of Blackburn Road, said she was getting ready to collect her children, aged four, three and one, from nursery and after-school club when she heard the door bell at 5.15pm on Thursday.

She said: “When I opened the door this guy just burst in and told me to take off all my jewellery. I would have fought with him but I thought he might have a weapon in his pocket.

“I started taking some stuff off, but then he suddenly just went for my neck and ripped my chains and necklaces away.

“Then he dragged me upstairs into the bedroom and told me to give him everything. I can fight like a cat and dog but I thought I was going to get murdered or raped, so I knew I just had to hand everything over.”

Mrs Ijaz had been given dozens of jewellery items when she married her husband Shahzad Ahmed eight years ago, and kept much of it in a wardrobe in the bedroom.

Her favourite items were a plain gold wedding set which her mother gave her, including a nose ring, anklet, necklace, earrings and headpiece, as well as a long gold necklace with ‘Allah’ inscribed on a pendant in silver Arabic lettering.

The staff nurse at Royal Blackburn Hospital added: “My mistake was flaunting my jewellery because I used to wear it around every day. You’ve got to make the most of life and I like wearing my jewellery and colourful clothes, but I never thought this would happen to me.

“I’m just devastated that I’ve lost everything. I feel naked without my jewellery, but I’m so relieved that my children weren’t home when it happened.

“I feel really scared now and don’t want to be home alone. I don’t feel safe.

“I was so relieved when he finally left. He just told me to sit on the stairs and not to move. I was sitting there and just shaking but I managed to call the police.”

Det Sgt Jen Lennon from Lancashire Police has appealed for information to help catch the offender.

She described the man as being in his mid-20s or 30s, and about 5ft 10ins with a local accent. He was wearing dark clothes, had his face covered and was also carrying a bag.

Ring 01254 353562, or 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 with any information.