EAST Lancashire shopkeepers are fighting back against robbers to defend their goods and takings in hard economic times.

Newsagents and convenience store owners are increasingly ready to put their own safety at risk when confronted by armed raiders.

Corner shopkeepers from Blackburn through Burnley across to Barrowford have been ignoring police warnings of possible injury to become ‘Have a Go Heroes’ on their own premises.

The latest incident came at the weekend when 68-year-old Ravat Mussa defied a raider with a knife at his shop in Accrington Road, Blackburn.

Police this week have also released CCTV footage of a shopkeeper in Ramsbottom being threatened with a gun. The worker bravely threw tins at him but could not stop him escaping with cash.

A week earlier mentally-ill Anthony Doran was detained indefinitely over a terrifying confrontation with Burnley shopkeeper Bhag Singh.

Preston Crown Court heard how last May the owners of Singh Stores in Padiham Road fended off his knife-wielding attacker with a stool.

Earlier this month. the female owner of Maguires Off Licence in Gisburn Road, Barrowford was also the victim of a knifepoint robbery attempt.

When she refused to hand over the contents of the till, the masked raider fled.

They are just a the latest in a string of such corner shop fightbacks in the past three years.

Blackburn MP and former Home Secretary Jack Straw, who intervened four times to stop criminals between 1980 and 1996, said: “As someone who has had a go himself a few times, I do detect a growing willingness among shopkeepers to stand up against robbers.

“It has to be an individual decision as there can be serious consequences. Certainly if criminals detect a growing willingness among shopkeepers to stand up and fight, they will be deterred.”

Chamber of Trade bosses in Blackburn and Burnley also said there was a growing willingness among small retailers to defend their goods and cash from armed thieves.

This increased readiness to ‘have a go ‘comes as a British Retail Consortium survey shows a nine-year high in shop thefts, a trebling of violence, threats and abuse against store staff and a four-fold increase in assaults on shopworkers.

Tony Duckworth, President of Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade said: “We have discussed this and our advice would always be to be careful.

“But I do detect a growing willingness among small shopkeepers to stand up and fight for their businesses.

“These are tough economic times, and they don’t want to give up their takings easily and some are jaded when the police have been called but no prosecution results.”

Other recent incidents where shopkeepers and their staff fought back include: l Phone shop boss Mohammed Jabar throwing a stepladder at two masked men armed with kitchen knives who burst into Sana Communications on Colne Road, Burnley on New Year’s Day 2014; l A female shop assistant defying a knifeman at Dave’s Newsagents in Brierfield in December 2013; l Mohammed Handra fighting off a robber who hit him over the head with a bottle at his Wensley Mini-Market in Blackburn in October 2013; l A part-time counter assistant chasing a machete-wielding robber at Lynwood Express in Darwen in April 2011; l Nasir Ahmed using a cricket bat to defend his Londis Store in Clayton-le-Moors against two thugs with an axe and samurai sword in May 2011; l Bashir Patel tackling a knifeman at his Roe Greave Road shop in Oswaldtwistle, in March 2011.

A Lancashire police spokesman said: “Whilst we do not want to deter those who are public-spirited, we must not encourage people to place themselves in danger.”