Pilton shopkeeper fights off would-be robber

Store owner Hamad Ashfaq. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Store owner Hamad Ashfaq. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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A SHOPKEEPER and his assistant fought off a masked robber who tried to steal cash in the latest in a string of raids on his shop.

Hamad Ashfaq was behind the counter at MM News Store on Boswall Parkway, Pilton, when the man burst in and demanded money.

He started throwing all the stuff off the counter. I punched him back as well. He ran out and I followed him.

Hamad Ashfaq

The suspect – who was wearing a black balaclava – punched Mr Ashfaq in the head and chest while screaming at him to open the till.

Despite being injured, Mr Ashfaq fought back while his assistant threw a bottle of juice at the man’s head.

He then pursued the robber when he fled the shop empty-handed, but lost sight of him as he entered Crewe Place shortly afterwards.

Mr Ashfaq, who has run the store with his brother and cousin for seven years, said he suspected the robber had something sharp and heavy within his gloves during Monday night’s incident.

“I could only see his eyes,” said the 39-year-old, who also runs a shop in Bonnyrigg.

“He came in and said, ‘give me money, give me money’. He punched me on the head and on the chest as well. I think he had something in his glove – I have got a big bump on my head.

“He started throwing all the stuff off the counter. I punched him back as well. He ran out and I followed him.”

Mr Ashfaq said he wasn’t fazed by the incident, as robbers have targeted the Pilton shop several times before.

These included a case which saw a member of staff threatened with a meat cleaver before robbers stole around £700.

And in February 2012, another worker was struck on the head with a piece of wood by a regular customer, who then made off with hundreds of pounds.

Mr Ashfaq said he feared police would not trace the masked robber, and he is now keen to install more security cameras to deter criminals and assist officers should he strike again.

The attempted robbery on Monday – shortly before 6pm – left his employee, who asked not to be named, “shaken”.

She told the News: “I was stacking shelves at the time, and he pushed me out of the way. I hit him with a plastic bottle. He came running in and demanded money.

“He had a big balaclava over his face. I saw him punching [Mr Ashfaq].

“I’m still shaken up now, I feel like I’ve not been myself since. Hopefully I’ll be OK in a couple of days.”

The suspect is described as a white man in his early 30s, around 5ft 6in tall with a large build. He was wearing black cotton jogging bottoms, a black hooded top with a full-length zip and front lower pockets, and a black woolly balaclava.

Detective Sergeant Lynsey Thomson, who is based at Gayfield Police Station, said: “Thankfully the shop owner didn’t receive any serious injuries and managed to see off his attacker, but it’s still been a frightening experience.

“The suspect spoke with a local accent and we’re looking for information that might help our inquiries.”

Witnesses should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com