herald

Thursday 22 August 2019

'Staff were traumatised after armed thugs robbed my business' - shop owner

Shopkeeper Joe Mannion. Photo: Patrick Browne
Shopkeeper Joe Mannion. Photo: Patrick Browne

A business owner has said his staff members were left traumatised after thugs held up his premises.

Joe Mannion, who owns the Daybreak in Clondalkin village, said that as a shopkeeper you could expect to be hit by criminals at least once a year.

He said he had been lucky that the shop hadn't been targeted so far this year, but armed robbers left his staff with symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress in the past 18 months.

"We had a hold-up situation with two lads in balaclavas on a quiet Sunday. They had what looked like a blade, but you couldn't be sure. I had two members of staff with me and your priority is to keep them safe, but also to get to the tills and open them," he said.

"It's also hard to get to the panic button, because you're wondering, 'will they cut you?'.

"They decided we didn't have enough money in the till and wanted me to open the safe. I finally could reach the panic button and once we hit that, they left."

Joe said the two staff members had been "terrified" during the ordeal and didn't want to identify the culprits when they were caught by gardai.

"I'm in business 35 years, and I've experienced a lot. But the two young people were terrified. It's almost like post-traumatic stress," he said. "When they tracked down the guys, they wouldn't identify them - I had to go alone."

He said another incident had involved a man entering the shop with a machete and grabbing a shop assistant.

Invasion

A customer rang gardai in that instance - Joe said this was the best thing customers could do and it was always safest for them to stay out of harm's way.

He said young staff and females were still taken advantage of by thieves.

"You deal with it the best you can. You put it to them to have counselling and you watch them over a few months. I know 20 years ago I was involved in an incident with a cash transfer van and I was held up. I went into the van to keep myself safe.

"I'd react badly to little things after that. It is an invasion.

"You can over-react to things. Staff worry 'will I meet this thug on the street?'.

"It is aggressive, it's as you see it on Crimecall - they don't exaggerate, and it is in your face.

"With a bit of luck, they will be picked up."

However, he said that shopkeepers also see their premiums shoot up when cash is stolen.

"You're not really insured. You get charged double to get it back and your premium goes up, particularly for cash."

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