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Police swarmed the Halfway Bush area of Dunedin following the attempted robbery about 7.50am yesterday.
The store was cordoned off while officers carried out inquiries and a scene examination.
The shop owner, who did not want to be identified, said crime in Dunedin was escalating and the Government should act.
"Dunedin's meant to be safe, but it doesn't feel like it.''
He was preoccupied by his phone when the woman, whose face was covered by a scarf, walked in with a handgun.
"I don't know if it was a real one or not,'' he said.
"I stood here checking the internet and she walked in and she said `I don't want to hurt you'.''
He fled into the adjoining flat, locked the door and called for his family to phone the police.
"She just ran away. It was just three or four seconds.''
The woman left without taking anything.
The store owner believed the Government should invest in a wider-reaching street surveillance camera network, which would help police identify cars and offenders involved in robberies.
"I think the Government should do something,'' he said.
"They get a lot of tax from us. They should do something to improve the security of the community.
"Even my local people, they don't feel safe now.''
Despite the threat of robbery, he would continue to stock cigarettes and tobacco as the business would not be sustainable without them.
"If you don't sell cigarettes then the shop has to close - that's just a fact.''
"For us it's about survival.''
On May 2, the shop was robbed by a man wielding a rifle. On that occasion the assailant entered shortly before 11am and pointed the rifle at the shop attendant.
He stole cash and tobacco before fleeing.
In response to the rising violent robberies targeting small businesses, police launched a month-long campaign in May offering cash rewards for anyone who provided information leading to the prosecution of those selling tobacco on the black market.
A police spokeswoman said Crimestoppers received a number of calls resulting from the campaign.
"It is too early to say whether the information provided in those calls will result in prosecutions,'' she said.
The CIB was investigating yesterday's robbery, she said.
Dunedin police (03) 471-4800, Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Recent armed robberies in Dunedin
May 2: A rifle-wielding man steals cash and tobacco from Halfway Bush Convenience Store, intersection of Ashmore St and Taieri Rd. He remains on the loose.
June 6: A handgun-wielding woman steals cash and demands gold from McAuliffe Jewellers, in King Edward St. The shop’s owner is able to flee.
June 23: A woman steals jewellery from Sue Todd Antiques, in Stuart St, and threatens the use of a handgun. Less than an hour later, the woman steals cash and tobacco from the Elgin Food Market, in Elgin Rd. She points a handgun at a member of the public who gives chase.
June 29: A 40-year-old woman is arrested in Oamaru and charged with the robberies of McAuliffe Jewellers, Sue Todd Antiques and Elgin Food Market.
July 3: A woman enters Halfway Bush Convenience Store and points a handgun at the owner.