THE owner of a Wetherby jewellers who was threatened with a gun in an armed daylight robbery last week has spoken out about his ordeal.
Robert Caine, of Caines Jewellers on the High Street, told the News of the terrifying moment masked and armed gunmen burst into his shop on Friday morning in broad daylight during the terrifying attack - stealing a number of valuable items.
Two men, all wearing black, rushed into the shop brandishing a gun and a sledgehammer, at around 9.14am last Friday and began taking items and shouting and screaming, while a third waited in a car outside.
Mr Caine, 44, who had opened up the store just 15 minutes earlier and was serving a customer, was the only member of staff in the shop.
He said: “I just could not believe it.
“I just could not think properly, they must have been in the shop for under 40 seconds in total.
“I knew one of them had a pistol, and I honestly didn’t know whether it was loaded or not - they were shouting a lot, and when I hit the panic alarm button one of them shouted something along the lines of don’t do that- but I honestly cannot recollect their accents or what exactly they said. My thought process was gone.
“Afterwards I couldn’t stop shaking for about two hours.”
Mr Caine, 44, who raised the alarm by pressing a panic button linked directly to the police station, says he threw a ring stick and sellotape dispenser at the masked gunmen and ducked behind the counter.
Meanwhile he said the unidentified customer remained ‘remarkably calm’ throughout.
CCTV images from inside the jewellers captured the horrific moments on camera. Footage has now been handed over to the police.
Mr Caine, whose family business has been in Wetherby for more than 30 years, said he had not yet estimated the value of items taken in the robbery.
He said: “We are beefing up our security now so that this sort of incident does not happen again. But I can’t live in fear of this happening again.”
Police are currently keeping a number of lines of inquiry open and investigations are ongoing, a spokesman told the Wetherby News.
The car, which the three suspects pulled up in outside the jewellers, is thought to have been a blue Subaru Impreza, which the thieves then used to flee the scene.
The robbers are then thought to have driven the short distance to a grass track off Third Avenue, where they abandoned the car and are believed to have transferred into another vehicle before leaving the area.
Det Con Nial Kelman, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “There is also a strong possibility the vehicle may have been in the area in the days leading up to the robbery and may have been seen either in the town centre or near to Third Avenue, where it was abandoned.
“I would ask people to look at the pictures of the Subaru and get in touch if they have recently seen it within the Wetherby area.
“I would also like to acknowledge the bravery of the member of staff who stood up to suspects and undoubtedly prevented further stock being taken during what was a rare incident in the area.
“We are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the vehicle or the occupants.
Officers, who were called to the scene at 9.14am, immediately sealed off the area.
Eyewitness Catherine Del Buono, who works at Sant Angelo restaurant in Wetherby, told the Wetherby News: “It was complete chaos, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what was going on.
“There was so much commotion and a lot of police cars, there must have been at least 20 police cars in the area at the time, I don’t know where they all came from.
“You don’t expect things like this to happen here in Wetherby.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police and speak to Det Con Nial Kelman on 0845 60 60 606.