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Boutique owner vows to carry on after another raid
The boss of a Bradford boutique yesterday vowed to carry on trading after confronting armed robbers in his shop.
Shahid Ali, owner of city-centre quality clothing shop Threads, chased the robbers after one of them swung a baseball bat at his head.
Mr Ali ducked to avoid the blow, which hit a wooden clothes stand, and then pursued the suspects to their getaway car.
The plucky businessman picked up a baseball bat, which one of the raiders had dropped, and aimed it at the car, but it reversed and sped from the scene.
The raid happened at the North Parade shop soon after 11am on Wednesday – 20 minutes after the same men aborted a raid at a petrol station.
Mr Ali, 35, was in his office, and his brother, Iftayab Zaman, 26, was behind the shop counter when the masked men burst in.
Mr Ali said: “I heard shouting and came out of the office. Two men were in the shop. They were covered from head to toe and had scarves over their faces. Both of them had baseball bats and were filling bags with our clothing.
“When they saw me, they stopped and seemed to panic. One of them came at me and swung the bat twice. It just missed my head and they grabbed the stuff and ran outside.”
Mr Ali added: “They are a bunch of idiots. They could get locked up for years for the sake of a few thousand pounds-worth of clothing. And someone could have been badly hurt – us or them.
”They knew what they were going for, they have probably been in as customers.”
The businessman said it was the fifth time the shop had been targeted since it opened five years ago. There had also been a ramraid, a burglary and two shoplifting offences.
He said: “Ours is a premium store, everything is bespoke. We are trying to do something amazing and I am sickened by what has happened. But I am not going to lose sleep over it. They are certainly not going to beat us.”
He described the suspects as white, in their early 20s, slim, and 5ft 9in tall, and wearing tracksuits.
“Someone locally must know who they are, and I would urge them to come forward,” he said. Detective Inspector Neil Benstead, of Airedale and North Bradford CID, who is leading the investigation, said: “These were particularly determined attempts to rob – not just at one premises, but at two – and the suspects were armed with a weapon.
“At this stage, though we are linking these two incidents, we are not connecting them to any other offences.
“We believe it is likely that the suspects are local to the Bradford area.”
The first incident took place at about 10.50am on Wednesday, when two men – one carrying a baseball bat – entered a petrol station in New Line, Greengates.
The man with the bat went up to the counter and made demands for money from the till assistant, while his accomplice guarded the door. Both men then suddenly ran from the premises empty handed and got into a blue vehicle, believed to be a Peugeot 207, which drove off towards Harrogate Road.
Detectives said the suspects fled before the assistant could respond to the demands.
The first man, who was carrying the baseball bat, was of slim build and around 5ft 8in tall. He was wearing dark clothing, possibly a jacket with the hood up, and a mask.
The second man was of similar build and height and was also wearing hooded dark clothing and a mask.
The driver of the vehicle was described as Asian and of large build.
Anyone with information should contact Airedale and North Bradford CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111