Two people tried to chase down a cowardly robber who pistol whipped and robbed an elderly woman on the Gold Coast.

BRISBANE, June 25 AAP – An elderly woman has serious head injuries after being pistol whipped by a cowardly robber at a Gold Coast shopping centre.

The 74-year-old suffered a serious gash to her head when she was repeatedly struck by the robber as she sat in her parked car at the Robina shopping centre on Tuesday.

Gold Coast Acting Chief Superintendent Des Lacy said the victim had told police the bandit was holding a gun as he attacked her.

The brutal assault only stopped when a couple in a nearby vehicle began honking their horn, causing the offender to flee with the woman’s handbag.

“He hit her a number of times and she sustained a fairly significant gash to the back of her head,” Supt Lacy told reporters, adding that the woman had been treated at the nearby Robina hospital. She has since been released.

He praised members of the public who had come forward to offer information about the attacker, including two people who chased the robber but lost him.

“It’s wonderful when you have these isolated instances of cowardly and violent crime that you have members of the public who are prepared to step forward and provide support.”

He said the woman would no doubt be traumatised by her ordeal.

Supt Lacy said police were reviewing CCTV footage as they continued to hunt for the attacker, described as being about 40 years old and of stocky build.

He was wearing a red and blue or black baseball cap, an open-necked checked shirt, dark shorts and runners.