This man is among those thought responsible for armed
robberies at five bars or restaurants in eastern Auckland.
Photo / Supplied
Children were forced to lie on the floor at gunpoint
while a gang of well-disguised robbers armed with pistols,
rifles, screwdrivers, hammers and knives demanded cash from
staff at a busy family restaurant.
The men are thought to be responsible for five robberies in
Auckland's eastern suburbs over the last two months. Each
time they have turned up to bars or restaurants full of
customers and demanded money while brandishing the weapons.
They then use stolen vehicles to get away, dumping them
A manager at Valentines restaurant in Pakuranga said the
ordeal last month was "very scary".
She was in the office when she heard a loud noise in the
restaurant. Thinking it may be a rowdy or drunk group of
diners she walked out to see what was happening.
"I came down the stairs and one of the robbers pointed a gun
at me and told me to walk out the front," she said, asking
not to be named. "I went out there and I saw customers and
staff all lying on the ground.
"The robber told me to lie there, too, so I listened to him.
Then they asked for the duty manager. They wanted all the
cash out of the till. He just gave them the cash, and they
had a look in the office and then within about 10 minutes
they were gone.
"It was scary. They were all covered up apart from their eyes
... two had guns, the others had knives. I just did what they
said. There were about 15-20 customers here and three or four
young children. It was very scary for them."
The restaurant does not keep a large amount of cash on site,
so the robbers did not get away with a significant amount.
The manager said as soon as the men left someone called 111
and a staff member noted the registration number of their
car, which turned out to be stolen.
"The next day we had staff too scared to turn up to work,"
the manager said.
Police say because of the efforts the men have gone to to
hide their faces and any distinguishing features, they have
proven difficult to identify.
The series of robberies began on October 2 when the men burst
into the Highland Park's Shiraz Bar at 12.45am, threatening
staff and demanding money. They struck again at Miss Q's Pool
Bar and Cafe in Mt Wellington at 1.20pm on October 22; Africa
in Highland Park at 9.20pm on November 4; at Valentines at
9pm on November 10 and O'Hagan's Irish Bar at Highland Park
at 10pm on November 20.
Counties Manukau police spokeswoman Ana-Mari Gates-Bowey said
the group were "targeting bars when patrons are in there".
"Most of the robberies have followed a similar pattern," she
"One man enters the bar and asks for the money, while his
associates make sure the patrons do not intervene. They wear
hoodies and bandannas to cover their faces and despite plenty
of CCTV footage, there have been few opportunities for police
to establish their identities."
Some witnesses have been able to give police limited
descriptions. They said they were all Maori or Pacific Island
men. One was muscular and in his 20s or early 30s and another
was younger and thinner.
"Police are urging any residents in the area to report
suspicious behaviour immediately," said Ms Gates-Bowey.
- Anna Leask, New Zealand Herald