DETECTIVES are hunting an axeman who threatened an elderly shopkeeper before fleeing with cash from the till.
Police said the victim retreated into a back room after the man burst into Ravats Groceries, in Accrington Road, Blackburn.
The thief, who tried to conceal his identity, reached into the till and escaped with £40 in cash, officers said.
He is thought to have fled towards Ronald Street, which runs behind the main road.
Detectives 'praised' the shopkeeper's actions and urged any witnesses to come forward.
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Det Sgt Andy Horne, leading the investigation, said: "The shopkeeper has done the right thing by stepping away and avoiding a confrontation.
"We are checking CCTV and making enquiries locally as well as arranging for all those present to be interviewed.
"It's still early days in the investigation but we would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time."
The suspect, who was said to have left the axe during Monday's incident, was thought to be white and was wearing a white face covering, masking his nose and mouth. Officers said he was also wearing a black baseball cap and jacket.
The shopkeeper and his wife, who are understood to have been shaken but unhurt in the incident, declined to comment yesterday.
Khalid Hussain, who runs the neighbouring TR Tailoring, said police had been to check their security cameras, in a bid to identify the intruder.
He said: "We close at around 7pm and I think that this happened around 7.30pm so we didn't see anything ourselves.
"I hope they catch whoever is responsible as soon as possible.
"The couple, who run the shop, are quite old and maybe that's why they were targeted."
A neighbour said: "They're a nice old couple, who run the shop. It doesn't open all the time but they're helpful when they do."
A mum in her 30s, who lives close-by, said: "It's a bit shocking really. They're good people and you don't need that sort of thing when you're just trying to earn a living."
Anyone with information about the raid should call police on 101, quoting log number 1331 of May 15.