Sunderland shop boss fears for staff safety after terrifying knife robbery

Usman Ali outside Ray's Convenience Store, in St Leonard's Street, Hendon, which was robbed on Saturday, December 10, 2016.
Usman Ali outside Ray's Convenience Store, in St Leonard's Street, Hendon, which was robbed on Saturday, December 10, 2016.

A shop boss says he fears for the safety of his staff after a knife-wielding raider stole hundreds of pounds in a terrifying robbery.

One female worker was threatened when a mask-wearing man went into Ray’s Convenience Store, in Hendon, on Saturday night.

Usman Ali outside Ray's Convenience Store, in St Leonard's Street, Hendon, which was robbed on Saturday, December 10, 2016.

Usman Ali outside Ray's Convenience Store, in St Leonard's Street, Hendon, which was robbed on Saturday, December 10, 2016.

The robber managed to get about £500 from the till before fleeing the St Leonard’s street shop.

Store owner Usman Ali today told how he fears for his welfare and that of his staff, after another of his stores was also robbed in the last year.

“This isn’t an isolated incident and there seems to be more robberies happening in the area,” said Mr Ali, a 32-year-old dad of two, who is managing director of a company which owns seven convenience stores in Sunderland.

“It’s the third year in a row that one of my shops has been robbed in the run-up to Christmas. The one on Villette Road was targeted last year.

“Nothing seems to be safe anymore and my staff have had to put up with abuse or being threatened with needles recently.”

Usman Ali

“I think it’s someone who lives near and uses the shop as they will have known that we’re getting ready to shut and cashing up at that time.

“But I think if this type of thing keeps happening then someone will get hurt.

“We have protocols in place to let the staff know they can hand over anything if they are threatened, it’s not worth them risking their lives, but if it was me I wouldn’t give hard-earned money up easily.

“There are a lot of older people living here too and I’m worried that they could get caught up in things.”

CCTV footage from the shop is now being examined by detectives in a bid to identify the robber.

Mr Ali also called on police chiefs to increase the regularity of patrols in the area, saying that in his opinion more crime-related incidents have been taking place in the past year.

Six years ago, Mr Ali’s now ex-wife Izzy fought off two yobs who tried to steal her BMW car as she left the shop to collect a cash bag.

Despite being outnumbered and bitten on the arm, Izzy, a karate brown belt, refused to surrender, even sitting on one of her attackers as he tried to drive off in her car.

“I’m born-and-bred in Hendon and the level of crime at the minute is scary. It seems like it’s the worst it’s ever been,” added Mr Ali.

“Nothing seems to be safe anymore and my staff have had to put up with abuse or being threatened with needles all the time.

“I’d like to see more police out and about at night and I think it would help put people off thinking of going to rob shops.

“If they knew there were more likely to be officers on patrol it might deter them, but some seem to think it’s all a big game.

“Something needs to change though because in the nine years I’ve owned shops, the situation has never been as bad.”

Anyone with any information regarding the robbery, which took place at 8.45pm on Saturday, should call Northumbria Police on 101, quoting 1189 101216 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.