Human cost of armed raid at store

Anthony Francis, store manager at Londis in Freckleton which was held up.
Anthony Francis, store manager at Londis in Freckleton which was held up.

A SHOP worker who was held up at knifepoint today said the incident has cost him a job he loves.

The raid at Londis on Naze Lane, Freckleton, which saw the robber make off with £120 from the till, was the second for Robert Lee, who was working alone at the store.

He said he was still recovering from the first robbery on March 6 last year, when two men threatened him with a knife and two screwdrivers.

And the latest incident has left him looking for work elsewhere.

He said: “I am leaving in the New Year, as soon as I can. I want to work somewhere bigger, where there’s someone around all the time.

“I don’t feel safe anymore.”

The 26-year-old has been working at the store for five years, and said the customers had kept him going.

But he added that enough was enough.

He added: “I’ve always been a nervous person, but this has left me jumping at shadows.”

The masked robber went into the convenience store at around 8pm on Thursday, locked the doors and demanded cash and cigarettes as he threatened to cut Mr Lee’s throat with the weapon.

The terrified victim handed over the cash drawer, but refused to give up the cigarettes.

He added: “I just wanted him to get out.”

Mr Lee, of Westway, Freckleton, said he knew from his first robbery experience things would not get easier for him.

He added: “I’m still getting over what happened last year, and now after this I almost had a breakdown in Thorntons in Preston.

“I am not able to cope.”

Mr Lee said he hoped police caught the person responsible for the robbery, not because of what they took, but so they were not able to frighten anyone else.

He added: “I’ve gone through this once, and now I’m going through it again. I don’t want anyone else to go through it.

“Someone in the village must know something.

“Unless they come forward, this person is going to get away with it.”

Store manager Anthony Francis was in his flat above the shop during the robbery.

He said he heard shouting coming from downstairs, but by the time he got down to the shop floor, the terrifying incident was over.

He added: “I drove around the village looking for him but I didn’t spot anybody.

“It was bad luck really.”

Mr Francis, who has owned the shop for 22 years, said Mr Lee was coping well after the robbery.

He added: “I don’t know what it’s like to be in that situation.

“The robber was fully masked and came in holding a knife.

“Robert was in the back store room, and the robber was just stood on the shop floor waiting for him.

Lancashire Police are hunting for the robber and have released images from the store’s CCTV system.

Witnesses, or anyone with information about the robbery, is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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