Machete ordeal of shop staff

The scene of the armed robbery
The scene of the armed robbery
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A SHOP assistant has told of her terror as she and a teenaged colleague were threatened with a machete during a robbery.

Masked raiders struck at the Spring View branch of Bargain Booze earlier this month, plundering cash and cigarettes while menacing the staff with the razor sharp weapon, and police today appealed for information.

Jackie Wheeler says that she has undergone counselling since her ordeal but was determined to continue working at the Warrington Road shop both because it is her livelihood and she doesn’t want to be beaten by the raiders.

It was at about 9.15pm on Thursday February 9 that the robbery took place. Jackie was in the stock room and her 17-year-old female colleague, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was at the counter on her own when two men burst in.

One was armed with a sword which he held just inches from the teen’s face as he shouted and swore at the top of his voice. Jackie says that she wonders whether they were drunk or had taken something prior to the raid because of the “hyped” way in which they were behaving.

One of the men came round behind the counter and, while the women were threatened with the machete, he stole cash from the two tills and several packets of cigarettes.

They fled on foot towards Marlborough Avenue with their loot which included the cash tray from one of the tills but dropped much of what they had stolen near the shop and this was returned to the staff by a customer.

No one was injured but both victims were left badly shaken.

Jackie, 47, said: “I was very frightened for our safety. I’ve not plucked up courage to watch the CCTV yet but my colleague has and she said you can see just how close the blade was to her face.

“I’ve worked in this shop for 20 years and never had anything like this before. I’m having counselling but I’m not letting this beat me. In any case it’s my living.

The swordman was white and of stocky build. He wore a blue hooded coat, a blue scarf that covered his face, blue jeans and white trainers with plastic bags around them. He was carrying a sword.

The second was white and of medium build, wearing a blue coat, brown trousers, black trainers and a beige bob hat with red stripes around it. A black scarf covered his face.

They were in their late 20s or early teens and spoke with local accents.

DC Jon Quigley from Wigan CID said: “Both staff were left terrified by their ordeal but thankfully they were not physically hurt.

“We believe the two men may have been hanging around the area, waiting for the right opportunity to make their move.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have walked into the shop prior to the robbery and seen anyone acting suspiciously to contact police.

“We would also like to hear from two men who visited the shop between 9pm and 9.05pm and were driving a silver estate car.”

Anyone with information should phone police on 0161 856 2354 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.