A SHOP worker was held at knifepoint for 15 minutes while three thugs waited for a time-locked safe to open.
The 27-year-old woman is said to have been left traumatised by her ordeal at the Winehouse off-licence in Slateford Road.
Police believe the gang could have been lying in wait for two hours before springing their attack when the shop was free of customers.
The shop assistant had been working alone when three men entered the store at around 8.30pm brandishing a knife and demanding she empty the safe. They forced her into a back room where she was made to key in the combination to a time-delayed vault before they grew anxious and fled with a three-figure sum from the till.
DC Roddy Scott, who is leading the investigation, said the victim had endured a terrifying experience.
“She’s traumatised and very shaken by what was a pretty lengthy ordeal at the hands of a man armed with a knife,” he said. “It’s fair to say she’s still in a state of shock. Fifteen minutes with an armed man in the back of a shop is not a pleasant experience for anyone.
“It’s a terrifying and violent incident for a young female shop assistant perpetrated by desperate individuals.”
DC Scott said the blade used was the length of a pen and had a wooden handle. He added that the wait to access the time-delayed safe began to panic some of the raiders, eventually forcing them to flee.
“The safe was on a time delay which slowed things down a bit,” he said. “One of the robbers panicked during the wait and ran off, leaving the guy with the knife behind with the shop assistant. He later fled with a three-figure sum from the till and some of the woman’s personal belongings.
“It would appear they have been waiting outside for the shop to empty and seized their opportunity when there were no customers within.”
Police are investigating a spate of armed robberies across the Capital but say there is no evidence to suggest the Slateford Road heist is connected.
In January, the Winehouse off-licence was targeted by a knife-wielding thug who threatened to stab the store manager and demanded cash from the safe. He also escaped with money from the register.
Police have released descriptions of the suspects for the latest raid. The first is described as being white, in his late teens or early 20s, 5ft 10in tall with a medium build. He was wearing a light-coloured hooded top with the hood up, a grey garment obscuring his face and lime green gloves.
The second suspect is described as white, early 20s, 5ft 8in tall with a slim build. He wore a navy-coloured hooded top with a Hearts scarf covering his face.
The third suspect is described only as white, wearing a dark hooded top and a scarf covering his face. All three spoke with Scottish accents.
A police spokesman appealed for anyone who saw the suspects in the area on Thursday night to contact them as a matter of urgency.