'Give me the money or someone is going to get hurt' - Sisters relive terrifying moment masked man tried to rob their Sunderland store

Two sisters threatened in their Sunderland store by a masked man carrying what they thought was a gun have spoken of their shock.

Friday, 26th August 2016, 3:31 pm
Updated Friday, 26th August 2016, 5:49 pm
Natalie Cowell and Kimberley Huitson were threatened by a masked raiser in their Sunderland store

Natalie Cowell and Kimberley Huitson were left shaken but unhurt after being threatened by a man wearing a balaclava who walked into Wilson’s Convenience Store, in Queen Alexandra Road.

The would-be robber demanded cash from Mrs Cowell as she worked behind the counter of the instore post office, while brandishing what the sisters thought was a weapon covered by a plastic bag. He was also armed with a piece of wood with protruding nails.

Wilson's Convenience Store

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When the 32-year-old refused and sounded the alarm he attempted to smash his way through a perspex screen in a bid to get his hands on the cash.

The attempted robbery happened between 9.30am and 9.40am on Thursday.

Mrs Cowell, who was in the back office at the time, said: "The first that I knew was when we spotted a man walking into the store with an umbrella over his head.

"As he got closer to the post office counter he lifted the umbrella off his head. He was wearing a balaclava.

Natalie Cowell and Kimberley Huitson say they will carry on as normal after their raid ordeal

"He shouted really loud ‘give me the money or someone is going to get hurt’.

"He had a piece of wood with nails through it and something which looked like a gun in a plastic bag.

"Kimberley reacted really quickly and pressed the panic button. When he realised he weren’t going to give him any money he ran round the side and started smashing the gate."

Mrs Cowell, 34, got her sister into the back office where she locked the pair in to keep them safe.

Wilson's Convenience Store

She added: "Luckily there were no customers in the shop at the time. Some of the customers had seen him run from the shop and came in to see if we were alright.

"He had dropped the plastic bag and when we opened it, it was a part of a vacuum extension which had been cut to give the shape of a gun.

"All we saw was something pointing towards us."

The shop has been owned by the sisters since 2010 after they took over from their parents.

Natalie Cowell and Kimberley Huitson say they will carry on as normal after their raid ordeal

"The shop has been in our family for 16 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.

"We were shocked and shaken after it happened but now we feel fine. The positive outcome was he didn’t get away with anything and no one got hurt.

"It’s not a nice situation to be in but we can’t afford to let it play on our minds. It’s one incident in 16 years since we’ve had the business. We will continue as we have been."

CCTV has been taken by police in a bid to find the person responsible.

The offender is described as aged 40 or older, he was wearing a balaclava, and a hi-vis jacket and carrying an umbrella and a blue plastic bag. He was seen running along Tunstall Road going in the direction of Ashbrooke.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference number 277 of 25/08/16 or ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.