A 65-year-old grandmother has told of her harrowing ordeal after she was threatened with a meat cleaver during an armed robbery in Knowle.
Trude Mian, of Braunton, was working at Knowle Garage on Saturday evening when two men stormed the shop armed with a kitchen knife and meat cleaver.
They threatened her with the weapons before shouting “Give us the f***ing money”.
VIDEO: This dramatic CCTV footage shows the terrifying moment two men stormed Knowle Garage armed with a meat cleaver and knife before subjecting the 65-year-old grandmother to a harrowing ordeal:
Mrs Mian, who is married to the owner of the garage Khaliq Mian, recalls the terrifying incident.
She said: “It was about two minutes to eight when the door burst open and two men came running in. At first I thought it was teenagers messing around. I thought “oh, it’s Hallowe’en”, but then as they came nearer I saw they were wearing balaclavas and had knives in their hands and realised it was serious.
“I thought ‘Is this it? If so I’m gonna fight until the end’.
“I was frightened at first but then I got angry. I thought ‘how dare they?’ I tried to phone 999 but one of the men grabbed my arm and I fell when he pushed me. He smashed the phone up with the meat cleaver.
“They wanted me to go to the safe but I told them I couldn’t get past them. I pushed the panic button under the counter and one of them saw. He shouted ‘She’s pushed the alarm, we better go.’ I shouted back ‘Yes, you better.’
Mrs Mian, who has three children and six grandchildren, recalls how she saw one of the men leave the meat cleaver on the counter top before running out of the store.
She said: “He must’ve put it down because he needed two hands to get in the till. As they ran out I noticed it was on the counter so I picked it up and ran after them. I thought at least I’ve got something to defend myself with.”
The men ran out and Mrs Mian quickly locked the door before ringing 999.
She said in the five years she had worked at the garage she had never known anything like it or been frightened in such a way before.
She said: “Even though it’s dark around here I’ve never been frightened before. There are always locals around. It’s scary to think they must’ve been watching me. They must’ve been in and surveyed the place beforehand because they knew where everything was. It’s scary.
“On Saturday night I couldn’t sleep. It kept running through my mind. Could I have done anything differently? I want to catch them for the sake of another community. Imagine if children had been buying sweets in the shop. If you know anything please go to the police. We all need to do our little bit to remain safe in our little community. We all need to look after each other.”
Detective Inspector Dave Atkinson described the ordeal as a “harrowing incident”.
He said: “They are clearly out of control. The sooner we get them locked up the better. Somebody will probably know who they are. This is a very rare incident for us. We are keeping an open mind as to where they are from. If you know something, please dig into your conscience and give us a ring.”
D.I Atkinson said a number of items, including the meat cleaver, had been recovered from the scene and had been sent off for forensic examination.
The offenders, who were wearing black balaclavas and very dark clothing at the time of the incident, stole £50 from the garage’s till.
Detective Sergeant Paul McWhinnie, of Barnstaple C.I.D., appealed to anyone who may have sold the offenders the meat cleaver or kitchen knife to come forward.
He said: “We would like to hear from any shopkeepers who believe they may have sold the meat cleaver and kitchen devil knife or from anyone who is now missing these items and who suspect a family member or someone they know may be involved in this despicable crime.
“We are also interested in hearing from anyone who believes they may have seen these offenders approaching or leaving the garage and in particular we would like to establish their method of travel to and from the scene.
“The offenders behaved in a very aggressive and threatening manner, swinging the meat cleaver towards the female member of staff and subjecting her to a very traumatic incident.”
Anyone with any information regarding this incident should contact Devon and Cornwall Police on 101, quoting reference CN/12/454.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.