Coming face to face with an armed robber who was rummaging through the cash register yesterday, a 60-year-old baby shop employee calmly turned around and walked to a back room to seek help.

Secretary Marie Louise Butti-gieg, who works at Special Delivery Maternity and Baby Boutique in St Venera, was alone at the store’s back office yesterday afternoon when she heard noises coming from the store.

Believing it was one of her colleagues returning to the shop to collect something, she walked out of her office to make sure everything was in order.

“We close the store between 1pm and 4pm, so it was a bit strange that there were noises. I am usually here alone at that time.

“As I walked out of the back room, I could see someone’s head behind the counter, going through the cupboards.

“I immediately realised it wasn’t my colleague, since the person had a garbage bag tied around his head. That’s when I realised we were being robbed,” she said. The man – who Ms Buttigieg described as tall, blond and skinny – was busy rummaging through the cupboards and seemed oblivious to the woman’s presence.

The person had a garbage bag tied around his head. That’s when I realised we were being robbed

While only standing a few steps away from the man, she assessed the situation and quickly turned to warn her employer. “I saw his face but somehow, he seemed completely unaware of my presence.”

As her boss and his wife live above the store, and knowing they had their seven-month-old daughter upstairs with them, Ms Buttigieg said that her first thought after getting a good look at the robber was to rush off and warn them.

“I am not usually a very calm person but I don’t know what happened – somehow I fought back the urge to scream for help and moved away slowly, trying not to make any noise.”

Ms Buttigieg then rushed to the back of the store, explaining to her boss what she had seen and locking the door which blocks off the store from the other areas.

The shop owners immediately called the police and then, together with Ms Buttigieg and the baby, quickly made their way outside through another exit. The police turned up some 10 minutes later, the owners said, but the thief had already left the shop, taking with him some €300 in cash.

CCTV footage from a nearby shop showed the man leaving the area in a car he had parked around the corner.

Singing her praises, shop owner Nathan Adams said that had it not been for Ms Buttigieg’s speedy reaction, things could have ended much worse. “The shop’s door has been damaged and he made away with the cash but, thanks to Ms Buttigieg, we all got out of here safely. She’s our very own hero,” Mr Adams said.

While the police are still investigating the case, Mr Adams said he hoped the CCTV footage could possibly help shed more light on who could have been behind the act and appealed to anyone with information to speak to the police.

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