A defiant shopkeeper vowed not to stop trading after masked raiders barged into his Bradford shop, smashing up the till with a hammer.
Tony Waters, 48,-year-old, whose family has run the Park Road mini-mart and off-licence for more than 40 years, said the hammer raid was “mild” compared to other weapon-frenzied attacks at the shop in the past.
“Machetes, swords, mum’s had a gun held to her head and I’ve had a knife against my throat – this time it was quite mild really,” he said.
Yesterday morning the shop was open at 6am. Mr Waters said: “This is my life, I was here as a schoolboy, spent school holidays here and worked here since finishing school. It’s all I have and all I want. I’ll be here until my ending days – robbers won’t stop me.”
The gang of four men, with their faces covered and one wearing a white plastic ski mask, burst into Tony’s Express at 7.30pm on Wednesday.
“They started saying ‘we want your money’. One had a hammer and was smashing the till but couldn’t open it so they picked it up and threw it on the floor,” said Mr Waters.
“One of the other men grabbed a few packets of cigarettes. I had a handful of notes in my pocket so I just threw them at them and they ran off. They took part of the till with them but dumped it on the corner of Elizabeth Street. They got away with about £300 to £400.”
He added: “All I could see were their eyes and the off-whitish colour of their skin. They definitely had Eastern European accents.”
Detective Inspector Stuart Lyons, of Bradford District CID, who is leading the investigation, anyone with information to come forward before the gang targets somewhere else.
He said: “We are keen to trace these men before they strike again. I would urge anyone who was in the Park Road/Elizabeth Street area of Bradford on Wednesday between 7.30pm and 7.40pm to contact the police, as it is possible they would have seen these men.”
The convenience store re-opened two weeks ago after being forced to close when Mr Waters’ 83-year-old mother, Beryl, had a stroke.
His father Keith, 86, still helps out behind the counter. Mr Waters said: “If dad had been there, the gang might not have got off so easily. Dad has tackled raiders single-handedly before and won.” Mr Waters, senior, made Telegraph & Argus headlines, when he was 76 and captured a knife-wielding teenage raider.
Anyone with information about the latest robbery should call Bradford District CID on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.