A SHOPKEEPER was ambushed by a masked robber wielding an eight-inch “meat cleaver” after a fake call in the middle of the night to tell him his burglar alarm was going off.
The balaclava-clad robber lay in wait for Taz Ahmed after calling him at home pretending to be a police officer and asking him to shut off the alarm.
When Mr Ahmed, 20, arrived at the Ladywell Foodstore in Thymebank, Livingston, and opened up, the robber pounced and demanded “cash and fags immediately”. He escaped with more than £5000 and around 8000 cigarettes after smashing open a cabinet and safe.
Mr Ahmed said: “My mother got a call at around 1.30am from a man claiming to be from Lothian and Borders Police. The bloke said my shop’s alarm had gone off and said I’d have to go down there, but it was all quiet when I got there.
“When I opened up the shop door the alarm started going off as usual. I felt this was quite strange, but then I heard the bell go off and I walked through to see this guy holding an eight-inch knife, which was like a meat cleaver but only three quarters the size. Later, I spotted that he was also holding a crowbar.
“He screamed at me, ‘Give me the cash, give me the fags’ and he demanded I open the safe. He was waving the knife around in my face, so I took him to the cash office.
“The safe is in a filing cabinet, and he seemed to get angry, so he got the crowbar out and ripped off a panel of the filing cabinet then he ripped off the lock on the safe.”
He added: “He ordered me to open the till, but there was only coins in there so he swore and grabbed two full bags of cigarettes [from the store room].
“There were 42 large boxes of cigarettes in the bags, and each box contained 200 cigarettes. Altogether, they were worth between £2500 and £3000.”
He added: “After he got the bags, he sprinted out of the store and I set off the panic button. Nothing like this has happened in the ten or 11 years we’ve owned the shop. I just wanted him to get out.
“If anybody ever calls to say the alarm is going off again, I’ll call the police first. I was half asleep at the time. I’ve had hundreds of people come in to support us and ask if we’re OK.”
Police said they were appealing for information following the raid, which happened in the early hours of yesterday morning.
A police spokesman said: “About 1.30am, a member of staff in the Ladywell Foodstore was threatened by a man with a knife. He demanded money, which was handed over, before he made off out the back door with a four-figure sum of money.
“The suspect is described as being around 5ft 10in tall and was wearing a dark-coloured top with a black hat over his face and black gloves.
“Although he was not injured, this has been a terrible experience for the man involved.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 0131-311 3131 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555 111.