Belfast Telegraph

Grainne Maher tells of moment shop worker threatened at knife point in Spires Mall store

By Claire Williamson

An award winning milliner and designer has told of the moment a staff member was threatened with a knife in broad daylight as he demanded money.

Grainne Maher told of her horror at the incident that happened at the Fashion Vault in the Spires Mall in Belfast on Wednesday.

She said how they had had some items stolen before over the past two years - but that it was an entirely different matter when "someone comes in to your shop brandishing a knife and threatening your staff to open the till".

She told the Belfast Telegraph what happened to her member of staff who was on her own when it happened - and has been off work since the incident.

Grainne said: "A man in his mid 20s wearing a hoodie came in and stood at the counter. He said to Terri 'don't go doing anything stupid I need you to open the til' and he had a knife and showed it to her.

"He came round behind the counter towards her and the till - still with the knife.

"She opened the counter and we had already cleared the cash out."

When he realised there was nothing there he left.

Grainne said: "It all happened quite quickly but it was still very scary and threatening and she is off now - she's very upset about it.

"I myself have a weird feeling just being here - it's not nice to have to be suspect of people

"We are watching more intently at people coming into the shop you have to do that anyway - but it's a bit more stressful. "

Grainne said the incident shows how quickly something can go wrong - no matter what time of the day it is.

"It just leaves you with a strange feeling. We'll keep going - you have to just get on with things."

It comes as the shop owner is having to move premises due to the Spires Mall closing permanently.

She said one good thing of that means she won't be in the place where she will be reminded of the incident.

She said: "He went with nothing this time, but that doesn't mean damage wasn't done. Feeling safe and happy isn't a luxury, it's something we should all be able to expect in our place of work."

In the meantime she said that security in the Mall has been upped.

Police are investigating the incident and are appealing for information and witnesses.

Detective Constable Siobhan McIlhone said “At approximately 3:10pm a man aged in his 20s entered a shop in Fisherwick Place holding a knife with a black handle. He examined the till of the shop before leaving the scene empty-handed exiting to College Square East. He’s described as having reddish/brown beard and was wearing a hoody.

"We are appealing to anyone that may have any information or to anyone that may have witnessed any suspicious activity in the vicinity at the time to contact Musgrave on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 688 of the 05/04/17. Or , alternatively if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to the anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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