A BRAVE cashier has told how she thwarted a knife-wielding thug at a petrol station in Dunbar.

Rigg Service Station on the town’s Belhaven Road was targeted on Sunday at about 7.40pm.

A man entered the premises and demanded money from cashier Emma Wells while brandishing a knife with a four-inch blade.

However, when she activated an alarm, the man, who had covered his face, ran away.

Emma, 28, told the Courier: “I had just come back in from outside and tidying everything away into the coal shed.

“I was just getting ready to close up and a guy came in and was just standing there looking at me.

“He had a balaclava on and a knife in his hand and it did not really register at first what was happening.

“Then he said, ‘Give me the notes’ and it still had not quite registered; then it registered quite quickly.

“I refused and he said, ‘Don’t make me hurt you’ and started walking round the shop to come round the counter.

“At that point, I pushed the panic alarm and he ran.

“It was over and done with in a minute or so.”

Emma, who began working at the service station earlier this summer, told the Courier she was calm during the incident and quickly phoned the police. Officers attended and spoke to the mum-of-three.

She added: “It was not really till I got home that it sank in; what could have actually happened if that panic alarm was not there.

“What would he have done if the alarm had not gone off?

“It sort of makes you a wee bit nervous but the owner has had the business for 18 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.

“Dunbar is generally a nice wee place.”

Emma now plans to return to work and added: “My boss phoned me and said if I needed therapy or counselling or anything just to let him know.”

Detective Sergeant Jamie Gilmore of Dalkeith CID said: “This was a brazen attempt to rob a local business and I want to commend the cashier for her bravery during this incident.

“Anyone who may have seen the suspect in the area, or have any information about his identity, is urged to contact us as soon as possible.”

The suspect is described as white, aged 20 to 30, about 5ft 10ins, of stocky build on top and with slimmer legs.

He was wearing a blue balaclava/hat with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth, which had two white horizontal stripes or a white pattern close to the eyes.

He was also wearing a dark grey hooded top with a dark-coloured rectangular patch across the chest with green/yellow writing, black gloves, black trousers and black trainers.

Scott Aitken, who has owned the service station for the last 18 years, praised his employee for keeping calm.

He said: “I have watched it back on CCTV and she does not panic at all.

“She does exactly what she is trained to do.”

Mr Aitken was hopeful it was “an isolated incident” and added: “Police say it is very unusual for Dunbar to have anything like this. Hopefully, it is a one-off.

“We have had a lot of support from the local community and the customers that come in have been fairly positive.”

Chief Inspector Steven Duncan, local area commander for East Lothian, said: “Tackling all forms of acquisitive crime remains one of our top priorities within East Lothian and thankfully incidents such as this do remain very rare.

“Nevertheless, we acknowledge the impact they can have on our communities, both in terms of the distress they can cause, and the financial implication for the affected businesses.

“As such, whenever we receive a report of a robbery or similar offence, the matter is robustly investigated by specially-trained officers and local resources provide high-visibility patrols to provide reassurance to the public and gather any relevant information.”

Iain Gray, the county’s MSP, said: “I join the police in commending the cashier for her bravery and quick-thinking.  “Thankfully this sort of crime is relatively rare in East Lothian, but I would echo the call for anyone with information to come forward.”

George Robertson, vice-chairman of the town’s community council, described Emma’s action as “very, very brave”.

He added: “Such incidents are very few and far between.”

Contact Police Scotland on 101 with information, quoting incident number 3533 of October 7.