When a gang of armed robbers targeted a jeweller’s in a violent smash and grab operation, the coast was clear except for a frail-looking pensioner.
But the trio made a tactical error by ignoring the 82-year-old woman, who was peering into the window of the shop.
As they started smashing a reinforced pane outside the premises with two baseball bats and a sledgehammer, she turned on them with her walking stick
The brave woman refused to back down even when the men rounded on her and hit her over the head and they eventually fled the premises of G Davison & Sons in Leigh, Essex, empty-handed.
The pensioner was later treated in hospital as a precaution for a bump on the head but was released the same day.
Her extraordinary bravery echoes the spate of heroics by several members of the public earlier this year to thwart criminals, starting with Ann Timson, 77, who handbagged an armed gang in Northampton.
Essex Police yesterday refused to release the identity of the latest have-a-go hero.
But the owner of the business, Geoff Davison, said he had asked to be put in contact with her so that he could present her with a thank you gift.
At that age to challenge anyone in any way is something but to take on three armed raiders – that gets my whole-hearted respect,’ he added.
‘I think she was amazingly brave to do what she did and that is why I have a massive bunch of flowers to give to her.’
The gang were targeting diamond rings and high-end watches including Rolex and Breitling brands when they struck on Tuesday.
A nearby shop worker said: ‘I was standing by the door and I saw a gold-coloured car pull up and two men in balaclavas carrying baseball bats. It was so scary.
‘They came running across the road and I came running back into the shop and called police. All you could hear was smashing and the alarms going off.
‘The woman was looking in the window of the jeweller’s and she hit them with her walking stick. She was very brave and so sweet.
‘The paramedics came because she was left with a big bump on her head where they had hit her with a baseball bat.’
Mr Davison, who has owned his business for 20 years, added: ‘Our defences were bullet-proof glass and an amazing 82-year-old lady.
Thankfully incidents like this have been pretty rare in the years we have been here but when something does happen you know the people behind it mean business as they are after hundreds of thousands of pounds of stock.’
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘A paramedic was sent to the scene at 11.53am on Tuesday.
‘A lady had been hit over the head with a baseball bat. We checked her over but she did not require hospital treatment.
‘Police still decided to take her to hospital afterwards as a precaution due to what she had been through.’
Detectives are appealing for information to track the two black men and one white man who sped off in a VW Golf.