A tanning salon worker has spoken of the terrifying moment a masked robber threatened her with a knife and demanded cash.
Lauren Kirkham, 20, was preparing to end her shift at Tan, on Devonshire Road, near to its junction with Church Street, Blackpool, at around 8.30pm on Thursday when she noticed a man with his face covered at the door.
When he walked in he demanded the salon’s cash and placed the knife on the small counter.
Miss Kirkham placed the till’s cash drawer on the counter, and the robber took “a few hundred pounds” before leaving.
Miss Kirkham today told The Gazette she has been left terrified by the ordeal – and said she can still picture the raider stood at the door when she closes her eyes.
She said: “When I saw him at the door I knew straight away something was wrong. You don’t come into a sun bed shop with your hood up and a scarf over your face.
“He just walked in and said ‘open the till’.
“As I put the drawer on the counter I noticed he had a knife in his hand. He wasn’t waving it around, but it was on the counter and pointed in my direction.
“He took the cash bags and that was it – he just turned and left.” Miss Kirkham, who has worked at the shop part time for a year while she studies media at Blackpool and The Fylde College, said once she had spotted the knife, she didn’t take her eyes off it.
“I started to panic, but I was trying to act calm so he didn’t see I was scared,” she said.
“I think it was only there to scare me, but I did start thinking about what I would do if he tried to stab me with it. I was just looking at it and trying to see what he was going to do next.
“I just wanted him to get out as quickly as possible.”
When the armed robber left the salon, Miss Kirkham saw him cross Devonshire Road and into Newton Drive before she lost sight of him.
She added: “After he left, that’s when it hit me and I started to panic.
“Now, when it gets dark I don’t like being on my own, and when I shut my eyes I can see him just stood at the door of the salon. It freaks me out.
“I just hope someone in the area saw him afterwards and can help police. I want him caught.”
Tan’s owner, Andrea Jackson, said she had already increased security at the salon, and is making sure no staff members are left on their own in the evenings.
She said: “We are all a bit nervous and shaken by what has happened, and I am quite angry.
“I have taken measures in the shop to make sure this does not happen again, and I know the police will do everything the can to catch this person. I believe this was a random, opportunistic attack on the shop at a time when it was getting dark and the roads were quiet because of roadworks outside – normally there would have been cars queuing at the traffic lights.”
Miss Jackson, 27, has owned Tan since March, and said nothing like this had happened before. She added: “Lauren was understandably very shaken up and upset at the time.
“She is still quite shaken, but she’s doing OK and has been back at work. I am doing everything I can to help her.”
Police have described the raider as being white, around 5ft 10ins tall and of slim build.
He was wearing a black waterproof jacket, a black scarf to cover his face and black gloves.
The knife is described as dirty, with a blade approximately eight inches long, rusty on the side with a serrated blade and a point at the end.
Det Con Ian Massey said: “Thankfully the shop assistant wasn’t physically hurt but she has been left shaken by what has happened.”
Anybody with any information is urged to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or on-line at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.