Armed robbery at Macraes Newsagents, Huntington Road

Stephen and Helen Weston outside MacRae’s First Stop in Huntington Road, York.

The gunman, wearing a dark hooded top, is about to strike

This CCTV footage shows the robber pointing a gun shopworker Sian MacRae and ordering her to fill a bag with cash

First published in News
Last updated
York Press: Photograph of the Author by

A TEENAGE shopworker has told of the terrifying moment when an armed robber pointed a gun at her.

Sian MacRae, 18, was working in her family’s shop in Huntington Road, York, when a gunman burst in and threatened her and her sister, Jodie Weston, 25, who was behind the counter.

Sian said: “As soon as I saw the gun, everyone just froze.

“He seemed very nervous, very panicked, and he stood in the doorway the whole time. It made me feel terrible, I was so scared.

“I tried to keep my composure the whole time but as he left I just sank and burst into tears. It’s an awful feeling that a person that could be like you or anyone else would be willing to come into a local family run shop and do that.”

Nobody was hurt in the raid, which happened just before 9pm on Thursday, but the gunman made off with cigarettes and up to £200 in cash.

Shop owners Stephen and Helen Weston started the MacRae newsagents almost 20 years ago, and Helen said the incident had made her consider the future of the store.

Sian was speaking with a friend Josh and a female customer in her sixties when the gunman burst through the door. Sian sent Josh upstairs to alert Stephen and Helen before joining Jodie behind the counter.

When Stephen and Helen came downstairs from their flat, the robber aimed the gun at everyone in the shop then took the bag - which contained less than £200 - and ran towards Kitchener Street with Stephen in pursuit.

Armed police were called and scoured the area. No arrests have yet been made, but Helen and Sian said officers and the emergency operator were “amazing”, keeping them calm and helping them through the experience.

Helen said as soon as the gunman left the shop, the gravity of the situation hit them all: “The moment he left the shop, Jodie and Sian collapsed in an absolute wreck. Emotionally, they were absolutely floored.

“Sian was absolutely amazing, sending Josh to get help and going behind the counter to help Jodie. I don’t think she knows how amazing she is.”

Sian said: “I don’t really know if I was scared but after I sat down I was terrified - not for my life, I wasn’t scared I was going to die, I was just scared that he was going to hurt one of us and he was harming our family business.

“When you have put so much pride and love in a family business and someone comes along and ruins it all in what felt like half an hour, but was only about two minutes? We’re lucky to have such a strong family.”

Regular customers are angry and upset by the incident and have shown their support by offering to sit with them behind the counter during opening hours, which she was grateful for, but the robbery - the second in less than 18 months - had taken its toll.

She said: “The service we provide is unique and the customers are my friends.

“They pay our bills and keep a roof over our heads, and that’s the basics of life and I wanted that legacy to continue to my children, but I don’t want that now, because of this.

“We’re not like Spar or Tesco or Sainsbury’s, there’s just me, Stephen, Sian and Jodie. What we make here gets ploughed straight back into the shelves. I feel we provide a community service.

“This was my dream, it means so much to me and these people are coming and wrecking it and not just my dream, but putting my children’s lives in danger now. It’s devastating.”

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