A young shop worker who was cornered by a hoodedrobber begged him: “Please don’t hurt me.”
Hayley Ellis, 22, told of her terror when a hooded man walked into the Subway sandwich store on Waterloo Road, where she was working alone, and ordered her to open the till.
He demanded cash and warned her: “Don’t scream.”
Hayley said: “I froze, my mind went blank and I didn’t know what to do – I was so scared. I said, ‘please don’t hurt me’.”
It happened at around 6.30pm on Thursday while Hayley was on the phone to a friend at another shop.
Hayley added: “He came in and he went straight for the till. I assumed he just wanted a coffee.
“Because he had his hood up and his mouth covered, I couldn’t hear what he was saying.
“I said ‘what do you want?’ and he said ‘open the till’. I said I couldn’t and he said ‘I know you can, don’t lie to me’.”
Hayley, who is just 4ft 11ins, at first attempted to scare the robber off by telling him other people were working in the shop, and that a male boss would be back any second.
But the brazen offender forced her to stand still while he emptied the till of around £80.
Hayley said: “I thought he’d be more scared if he thought a man was coming instead of just me on my own, especially because I’m so short.
“He looked very experienced because he knew how to open the till.
“He knew exactly what he was doing – I didn’t even have to say anything to him.
“He was so calm about it. When we looked at the CCTV later we saw he had gone past a few minutes before on his bike so he knew I was on my own. He knew I wouldn’t be a threat.”
The incident left Hayley crying and shaking with fear.
She said: “I couldn’t believe this could actually happen to me.
“I picked up the phone to my friend and he said ‘are you OK?’ and I said ‘no, I’ve just been robbed’, and burst into tears.
“I blamed myself. I thought I shouldn’t have let him take it, but at the end of the day it’s only money, which is nothing compared to my life.”
The offender, who fled the scene on a bicycle, is described as white with a slim build and ‘greyish skin’.
He is around 5ft 11ins tall, and wore a dark jacket with a dark peaked cap.
Hayley said: “I could only see his eyes. I thought that he was probably in his mid-20s, but I couldn’t really tell because he was completely covered up apart from his eyes.
“If they put him in front of me I wouldn’t even be able to tell if it was him or not.
“I’m a bit scared about going back.
“They’re going to stop doing single-person shifts now, which does make me feel a bit safer, but I don’t think I know how I’ll truly feel until I get back behind the counter.”
Julie Irving, Area Manager for Subway Fylde, said: “This was a shocking and distressing experience for our staff member.
“We are assisting police with their inquiries and would appeal to any members of the public who may have information about this incident to contact them.
“The staff member involved was working alone at the time.
“We are now reviewing our shift patterns locally in light of this incident.
“The safety of our staff is paramount.”
Call police on 101 with information and quote crime reference number WA1619187.