Residents told of their shock after an elderly neighbour was confronted in her own home by an intruder wearing a balaclava and brandishing a large knife.
The frightening incident happened in Greyfriars Court, at King Oswy in Hartlepool, at about 6pm on Friday night.
The victim, a 74-year-old woman, was in her kitchen waiting for a family member to visit when she was confronted by the man in her hall.
He was wearing a balaclava or mask which covered his face and pulled out a large kitchen knife and held it towards her.
He fled after the woman shouted for help claiming it was ‘a prank’.
Cleveland Police said she was left shaken but unhurt, and yesterday issued a witness appeal as they hunt for the person responsible.
Residents in the quiet cul-de-sac, spoke of their shock and how it has made them more vigilant about security.
John Spence, aged 83, said: “I was shocked about it because it’s very quiet round here. I am surprised at anything like that. Since that I lock the door all the time now.”
Neighbour Philip Palmer, 35, said: “There’s people who will do anything for money these days.
“I hope the police catch them, but there’s no police about these days is there.”
A 56-year-old resident, who did not wish to be named, said police checked his CCTV of the road.
He said: “It is a terrible thing to happen to her, really shocking.
“It just makes you more vigilant about keeping your doors locked.”
Another neighbour, a 57-year-old man said: “It is the first time anything like this has happened like that as far as I know.
“It is worrying, especially for elderly ladies.”
A police spokesman said: “He was wearing a black jacket, black trousers and shoes and a grey and black camouflage hood or balaclava/mask covering his face.
“The man pulled out a large kitchen style knife and held to towards her.
“The lady then shouted out for help and the suspect told her not to shout out and that it was only a prank to scare people ‘like you can see on the internet’.”
The man left and ran off towards the King Oswy shops.
Police carried out a search of the area but there was no sign of the suspect.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Constable Holly Angus on 101 quoting event 223494.