A WIGAN shop owner says he and his colleagues were lucky to come away unscathed from a terrifying armed robbery in the town centre.
Three men dressed in Halloween fancy dress outfits and clown masks raided Neil Kay Jewellery in the Galleries armed with crowbars and a hammer on Tuesday morning, making off with a considerable amount of stock.
Mr Kay told the Evening Post that the ordeal was over in about a minute but could have easily had more serious consequences for his staff.
He said: “My first thought was for the safety of my shop assistant, Michelle, who is seven months pregnant. They said, ‘Do what we say and nobody will get hurt’ and ordered us to get on the ground while they did their stuff.
“We were just going about our business like any other day. I was having a meeting with someone from our insurance.
“When they were inside one of the arcade security guards noticed what was going on and called for back-up and tried to shut them in the shop. But they got out and ran off down the street.
“They had dropped their weapons so I gave chase. I jumped on one of them, his wig fell off and I hit the ground. I guess he did too but he did get away.
“I’m just thankful no-one was hurt. They had these weapons so something serious could have happened.”
Police are now hunting for the brazen trio who were driven off by a fourth man in a dark coloured vehicle. One of the offenders was wearing a clown mask with a red wig, one a Halloween style mask with a white dreadlock wig and the third, a clown mask with a black curly wig. They were carrying collection buckets.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing the men “larking about” in the shopping centre prior to the robbery.
Det Sgt Graham Clare of Wigan Police, said: “These men have terrified staff and onlookers as they carried out this robbery dressed in horror style masks and armed with weapons. These men even had the audacity to carry charity collection buckets as they committed this crime.
“We are making a number of inquiries to identify them and are appealing for the public to contact us if they saw these men in the lead up to or after this robbery, or if they have any information about who they think may be responsible.
“We are also appealing to anyone who is offered any of this jewellery to do the right thing and call us, so we can trace these items and return them to their rightful owner.”
Anyone with information can call Wigan CID on 0161 856 7295 or contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.