An armed robber with bloodshot eyes smashed a hatchet into the counter of a Sheffield bookmaker’s shop before demanding cash from the terrified young staff.
Punters fled as the thug - his face mostly hidden by a blue ski mask - escaped with cash from the till and safe at Betfred on Hartley Brook Road in Shiregreen.
The police helicopter, firearms officers and police dog handlers were all scrambled to the scene, but the suspect had fled in a black car with a getaway driver at the wheel.
Detectives were today scouring CCTV footage from the area, and the shop’s staff - a young man aged 19 and his female colleague, 20 - were said to be ‘shaken’ but unharmed.
The robber had bloodshot eyes, was wearing tracksuit bottoms tucked into his socks, and wielding a hatchet with a black and red blade.
Jack Beale, aged 18, and his father Simon were at home in Hartley Brook Road at the time.
Simon, 50, said: “We live just on the corner. We didn’t hear anything but just afterwards someone knocked on our door and said the bookies had been robbed.
“We’ve heard blokes got out of a car with weapons, then went off.”
The incident sparked fears among some local residents that crime in the area could be on the rise.
Mr Beale added: “It used to be like Beirut around here at one time - I just hope it doesn’t start going back that way.”
Grandmother Julie Price, 54, of nearby Ronksley Crescent, said: “There is a lot of talk about what happened. It does make you frightened.
“I’ve lived here 17 years and lately it has been quiet. But it gets a bad reputation, and you can see why when something like this happens.
“They’re probably from out of the area and targeting Shiregreen.
“I hope the police catch who did it.”
The robber took a ‘small’ amount of cash in the robbery, police said, and ran to the front passenger seat of a black car, believed to be a Volvo.
It was driven by an accomplice towards Woolley Wood Bottom.
The robber is described as having bloodshot eyes, and wearing a blue ski mask, a blue padded jacket with a large collar, and black shellsuit-type tracksuit bottoms tucked into black socks.
His hatchet had a wooden handle and a black and red blade.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “A male whose face was hidden by a ski mask entered the premises and smashed a hatchet into the counter, demanding cash from the two staff behind it. Two male customers fled the shop.
“The suspect demanded the staff hand over money from the till and safe.
“Hartley Brook Road is believed to have been busy at the time, and officers are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.”
Witnesses to the incident, at about 8.15pm on Saturday, should call police on 101 quoting Procad incident number 1,177 of August 31.