Brave shop owner, 70, fends off knifepoint robber

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An elderly shopkeeper fought off a knife-wielding thug trying to rob his business and sent him fleeing empty-handed.

Businessman David Sykes, aged 70, was at the convenience store he has run with his wife for 36 years when a masked man burst through the door.

David Sykes. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

David Sykes. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

He brandished a six-inch blade and charged but David sprang into action and grabbed him in what is described as a “bear hug” in order to restrain him.

As Mr Sykes attempted to prevent the man attacking him the two crashed to the floor, at which point the terrified robber ran out of the shop empty-handed.

Mr Sykes said: “This man ran into the store screaming his 
head off and attacked me from behind.

“There was no time to register what was going on, but instinct kicked in and I thought to myself ‘I’m having this guy’.

“I didn’t see the knife until half-a-second after I was fully committed to the fight.

“I went after him and challenged him and we tussled and then bear hugged on to the counter which then collapsed.

“It made a mess of the shop. We ended up on the floor.

“Everything was scattered about on the floor and the counter had flipped upside down.

“I could just see the panic button was in reach, so I pushed it and all the alarms went off.

“He was straight out of the shop and up the street, running for cover.”

Following the attempted robbery Mr Sykes called the police.

When officers arrived minutes later they attempted to locate the robber but unfortunately he has not been traced.

Despite being lauded for bravery, Mr Sykes now has some regret over his actions and said he is amazed he was not injured at all in the incident.

Mr Sykes said: “When it was all over I did think to myself that taking on a man with a six-inch blade was a foolish thing to do.

“But in those sorts of moments you just react, and that’s exactly what I did.

“All in a day’s work, though – 
I wasn’t even hurt in the 

Even though nothing was taken in the robbery, the irony is that there would have been no cash to steal even if his assailant had been successful as he just opened for business for the day.

“He must be brain dead to try and rob a shop so early in the morning – the till was empty, we hadn’t even done any business yet,” said Mr Sykes.

The attack happened at D.M & J.L. Sykes, at 5.10am on Monday, February 17 – just minutes after the shop in Elland, West Yorkshire, opened.

Mr Sykes added: “It’s made me a bit wary, but what else can I 

“This is work and this is what I do.

“We’re taking more precautions now and I would hope that any future robbers would think twice before crossing me.”

The suspect is described as white, around 19 years old, 5ft 7in tall and of a slim build.

He was wearing a grey hoodie-type top with the hood pulled up, grey jeans and used a scarf to cover his face.

Witnesses or anyone with information should contact Det Sgt Terry O’Keeffe at Halifax CID on 01422 337029.

Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Police have also released CCTV images of other people they want to speak to.