DETECTIVES have renewed appeals for help to find two men who threatened a 71-year-old shop owner with a baseball bat during an off-licence robbery.
The Lancashire Telegraph can exclusively reveal CCTV footage of the moment the duo terrorised the pensioner, who was working alone at the General Stores on Haslingden Road, Blackburn.
The great-grandmother-of-four, who was on the phone to her daughter at the time, was grabbed as one of the masked raiders tried to snatch her phone.
Detectives said they are not ruling out a link between Wednesday’s robbery and a similar raid on Lock Mill service station, in Bolton Road, at around 10.15pm on Sunday.
After that incident, two thieves fled with a small amount of cash and cigarettes, towards Hollin Bridge Street.
The general store owner said the raid shortly before 8am had left her ‘nervous and upset’.
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She said: “After the thieves came in one pulled out the bat and held it over his head. He was leaning over the counter and grabbed my arm.
“The other one came behind the counter and was opening the till. They were screaming at me ‘where’s the safe?’ and ‘where’s the wad of cash?’ but there was no more. I was pushed against the wall. It was terrifying.
“I was thinking all the time that they were going to hurt me.
"My daughter was still on the phone line and she could hear the commotion and me shouting for them to let me go.
“She said when the phone went dead she thought that I could have been killed or knocked out.
“I emptied my pockets which had two fivers and a £10 note in them and handed that over and then they left. The whole thing lasted about two minutes but it seemed to me to be much longer.”
The robbers escaped with around £150 in cash along Bennington Street. Police arrived a short time later after being alerted by the victim’s daughter.
The grandmother-of-eight, who was shaken by the raid but suffered no injuries, said she had received support from family, customers and neighbours.
She said: “It’s knocked me that’s for sure but people have been very kind. The following morning two boys and a girl came in on their way to Blackburn Central High School.
“They were no more than 11 or 12 but they asked if I was okay and said they hoped these horrible men would be caught. It brought a tear to my eye to hear those kind words.”
One of the suspects was wearing a dark jacket, the other a blue one. They were both were wearing jeans, had hoods up and scarves covering their faces.
Neighbours said they were horrified to hear what had happened on their doorsteps.
Phillip Dearden, 52, who lives opposite the shop, said: “It’s terrible that this has happened.These must be desperate people to target a woman in her 70s working alone. They need to be caught.”
Detectives are now urging anyone with information about those responsible to contact them.
DS Adrian McHugh said: “This was a vulnerable woman who was subjected to a frightening and violent ordeal and was left very shaken.
“This is the second similar robbery within four days in this area and I’m not ruling out that they are linked. We are looking for two white males in connection with the shop robbery.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting log number 213 of March 15.