A RESTAURANT owner has pleaded for help in catching three masked men who held his daughters at knifepoint and raided thousands of pounds worth of jewellery from their Burnley home.
Anisha and Ayesha Ali, aged 13 and 12, were home alone when three intruders broke in through a window at the Rossendale Road property and forced the girls to lead them to the valuables.
Dad Ibby, 38, who owns the award-winning Usha restaurant on the opposite side of the road, said his girls were left badly shaken by the raid on Monday at 7.45pm, in which more than £10,000 of gold jewellery was stolen.
He said: “Anisha was watching television and Ayesha was doing her homework and they suddenly heard a big bang on the front door.
“It’s got some good locks on it so the men couldn’t open it, but then one of them managed to break in through one of the windows at the side and climbed in.
“He let the others in and they grabbed my daughters and threatened them with knives, saying they would have to show them where everything was. They were wearing balaclavas.”
The girls were then taken upstairs and put in a walk-in wardrobe while the men ransacked the property, taking iPads, iPods, mobile phones and cash, as well as his wife’s wedding gold, which included rings, bracelets, chains and a headpiece.
Ibby, a dad-of-five, added: “All those things can all be re-earned but the biggest thing is the upset this has caused to my family. My daughters were physically shaking all through the night and are still in total shock.
“I’ve been here for 12 years now and I love this area but now I wonder whether I belong here. It’s affected me so much that I’ve started to think that. And we definitely won’t be leaving my two daughters at home on their own again.
“I just hope someone can help the police catch these men.”
Ibby was visiting his mum at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, with his wife and three youngest children, when the raid happened at about 7.45pm.
Anisha dialled 999 after the raiders had left and police said they arrived five minutes later. Detectives in Burnley launched an investigation yesterday and appealed for anyone with information to contact them.
The girls, who are both pupils at Ghausia Girls High School in Nelson, said the intruders did not speak with English accents, though detectives have not released descriptions.
A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary said: “While police arrived at the address around five minutes after the 999 call, the offenders had already made off with gold jewellery worth more than £10,000 and they are now being hunted.
“The two girls were left shaken but unhurt and they are being supported by specially-trained officers.”
DI Jim Elston, of Burnley Police, said: “It is possible the offenders thought the house was empty at the time they forced entry but on realising the young girls were at home they could have left but instead they have threatened them with weapons, placed them in a wardrobe and then rummaged and searched the family home.
“Both girls reacted with great courage and showed resilience in what must have been a very frightening ordeal.
“We are now hunting these offenders and I would appeal for anyone with any information to get in touch with us.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting log number 1119 of Monday, February 3.
The Usha curry house, where Ibby is also head chef, was named the North West’s best Indian restaurant at the Asian Curry Awards in 2011.
It has also won recognition in the British Curry, Bangladesh Caterers, Best of Burnley and Quality in Tourism awards.