A CAR-BUYING company is reviewing its security arrangements after a shocking gunpoint raid on its Southend office.
The raid left the woman who manages the Boston Avenue office of the webuyanycar.com chain too scared to return to work.
Her ordeal included being throttled with a bicycle chain and threatened with a gun and a carving knife as the robber demanded cash.
The harrowing incident happened on June 20, but Southend police have only now released full details to support a fresh appeal for witnesses and information.
They have also issued an electronic image of the raider in the hope it might jog witnesses’ memories.
webuyanycar.com has also issued a statement about the incident after another of its staff said not enough was being done to make them feel safe.
A company spokesman said: “We take the safety of our staff very seriously and are continually doing all we can to protect our employees. As a business, we never hold cash and as such, we would like to believe this incident was rare in the extreme.
“But we are taking no chances.
The safety of staff is paramount and we will ensure every measure is put in place to protect our Boston Avenue office and all our branches nationwide.”
Managers often work alone in the branch offices and are fearful of attacks. A member of staff, who is at risk of losing her job if identified, told the Echo: “When she told this man she didn’t carry cash, he leapt at her. He had a carving knife and showed her a gun in his pocket.
“He lunged at her and she tried to run out of the back door, but he grabbed her by the throat. She was being strangled by a bicycle chain and was pulled to the floor.
“The chain was restricting her breathing, but she started fighting back and it turned into a fight. In the end, he ran off.
“It’s left her with back pain and petrified to come back to work. I asked if she was OK and she said ‘not really’.
“The bosses should be doing a lot more now for us than they were. I’m now concerned for my welfare, because if it could happen to her, it could happen to me.”
The employee said they had contacted the firm’s human resources department and asked if the company was going to have alarms and CCTV fitted, but had been told it was not.
The worker added: “There’s nothing in the branches to tell customers we don’t carry cash, either.
“At the moment, what’s happened has been played down. But it wasn’t just a knife waved in her face. She had a physical fight with this guy and had a bike chain around her neck. She had a knife pulled out on her and he showed her a gun.
“I’m petrified really, because we are there on our own. I don’t knowwhat to do, I feel helpless.”
Police are continuing to appeal for information about the raid, which happened at 1.30pm on June 20.
Anyone with information, or who recognises the man in the police picture is asked to call Det Con Chris Adam on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.