An Oldham nursery manager subjected to a terrifying robbery just minutes before the toddlers arrived has revealed to MM that she is now too scared to be left alone.
The incident happened at around 7.20am on January 22, when the offender forced his way into the entrance of Nature’s Nursery on St Philips Drive in Royton.
The offender rang the doorbell and initially hid round the corner. When a member of staff answered, he pushed his way in and demanded they give him any money on the premises, gesturing to suggest he was carrying a gun.
Deputy manager Nichola Woodley, 30, who opened the door to the robber, was subjected to a terrifying ordeal as the attacker held whatever was in his pocket to her head – under the pretence that it was a gun – and repeatedly shouted ‘I’ll give it to ya’.
Once he made his getaway with only some petty cash, Nichola and her colleagues were left to break down in tears, and she has admitted she is still too shaken up to be left alone by the ordeal.
Nichola, who has worked at the nursery for 11 years and lives in Mossley, told MM: “We start at 7.30, but because I’m management I usually come in a bit earlier to open up and turn all the lights on. I was just doing daily checks at the door and then I heard the doorbell go.
“I saw a bobble hat in the glass window above the door and I just presumed it was another member of staff, because there is someone who’s really tall and also wears a bobble hat.
“So I opened it and he had gone behind the door. I peered round the corner and that’s when he appeared.
“He opened the poor, grabbed my arm, pushed me out the way and then forced his way in. He pushed me into the radiator. He was banging on the office door, trying to kick it down and telling me to let him in the office.”
The offender is being described as white, 5ft 7in tall, of ‘beefy’ build and wearing all dark clothing with a hood up and a scarf covering the lower part of his face.
He continued to threaten Ms Woodley, insinuating that he might be carrying a weapon, until the other member of staff in the building ran down the corridor to see what was happening.
“He kept putting his hand inside his coat,” Ms Woodley said.
“I think it was just his hand, but at the time it looked like he had a gun and he was pressing it up against my head. He was telling me to let him into the office, saying ‘do you want me to give it to ya’, then pressing the ‘gun’ against my head even harder.
“There was another member of staff down the corridor so I screamed for her as soon as I realised what was happening. She came running down, thinking I’d fallen over or something, and asking what was wrong, and then she saw him.
“I said I wasn’t letting him in but he told me he wanted all the money we had. I told him there was no money on the premises, and that all the money gets taken away at the end of each night.
“I told the other member of staff it’s not worth our lives, as we didn’t know if he did have a gun or not. I let him in the office and he made me open a couple of the draws and took the petty cash tin. Then he just walked out.
“If he had done it 10 or 15 minutes later there would have been children on the premises.”
The offender left the nursery as other staff members were arriving, as well as parents and their children. Some of them saw him walking out of the front door and then running away down the street.
The two members of staff in the building were left shocked about what had happened and concerned that the incident had occurred so close to the arrival of the children.
Ms Woodley added: “I was really shaken up at the time, and once he’d gone, me and the other member of staff just burst into tears, phoned the police and were still on the phone when the parents arrived. We are still a bit shaken up now and don’t really like to be left on our own.
“It’s not something you’d expect to happen in a place like this, especially when children were arriving anytime soon.”
Detective Constable Maa Scarratt of Greater Manchester Police said: “This happened very early in the morning, as staff were just arriving for the day ahead.
“They have been left shaken and distressed by this and I would encourage anyone with information to get in touch.
“If you think you know the person responsible or remember seeing someone lurking in the area that morning, please get in touch.”
Anyone with information is being urged to call police on 0161 856 8821 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Image courtesy of Google Maps, with thanks