HIS eyes red from a chemical attack shopkeeper Anilkumar Sivanandan today told how he was temporary blinded by a robber in his store.
Mr Sivanandan needed hospital treatment after the raider went into his VG Food Shop, in Durham Road, East Rainton, and sprayed him in the face before fleeing with £300.
It is believed that ammonia – often used in bleach and other cleaning products – was used by the attacker.
Mr Sivanandan, 45, who has run the shop with wife Arsha, 41, for the past nine years, said: “He came into the shop, didn’t say anything, then sprayed something from a water bottle in my face.
“I went straight away to wash my face because my eyes were stinging and the smell was terrible.”
The attacker then jumped behind the counter and made off with the cash.
“When I came back he had taken some money but left some behind on the floor in front of the counter,” added Mr Sivanandan.
He is now going for regular treatment at Sunderland Eye Infirmary to reduce the swelling and redness in his eyes caused by the attack.
Despite the robbery the couple, who have two children aged 11 and four, say they have no intention of leaving the store.
“We are shocked by what’s happened, but we are happy here,” added Mr Sivanandan.
“It’s a nice community.”
Officers from Northumbria Police are now examining CCTV footage of the robbery in a bid to identify the raider.
Lance Foster, who runs Green and White Mini Spares, just yards from Mr Sivanandan’s shop, spoke of his shock after finding out about the robbery hours after it took place.
Mr Foster said: “It’s ridiculous.
“Things like this always seem to be a bit random.
“I’ve been here 25 years and nothing like this has happened, but is anybody safe nowadays? It’s very upsetting for them.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Lisa Musgrove, who covers the area, said: “This was a frightening experience for the shopkeeper and a number of enquiries are under way to find the person responsible.
“Extra attention is being paid to the area to reassure local residents.”
The theft took place at about 7.30pm on Wednesday.
The robber was white, in his early or late 20s and of stocky build.
Witnesses with any information should call Northumbria Police on the non-emergency 101 line or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.