Tourists may have snapped armed man's photo

Detectives hope tourists taking photos at the top of Mt Eden yesterday will have snapped images of an armed and dangerous man who is now on the run in Auckland.

The man accosted a group of Asian visitors at the tourist attraction yesterday, stealing a handbag before firing five shots into the ground when one of the group chased him.

The same thief also brandished the weapon when he stole wallets and phones from a person at the base of Mt Eden and another person leading a tour group at the Domain's Wintergarden Pavilion.

The three armed robberies happened between 4pm and 5pm.

"The police are obviously concerned that we have a dangerous and armed offender out there and we will rely on the public to help us catch him. If you see that vehicle contact police on 111.

"If you are confronted or approached by anyone in that vehicle, comply and do as you are asked. We don't want any heroes," Detective Inspector Scott Beard said.

The armed man first stole from a man at Wintergarden Pavilion before confronting someone alone at the base of the Mt Eden track.

He then drove to the summit where he confronted the group of Asian visitors and struggled to pull a bag from one of them.

There were no security cameras where the three robberies happened.

"That's why we're relying on the public who may have taken photos to come to us with those photos. They may well show the offender," Mr Beard said.

He said the armed man fired five shots into the ground at the Mt Eden summit to scare away his victim before running back to his car to drive away.

One person from the group chased after the man and tried to stop him from driving away.

"Obviously when somebody has a firearm and it's loaded and they're prepared to fire it, it means we have a dangerous criminal there," Mr Beard said.

"If someone approaches them with a firearm and demands their wallet or handbag, just hand it over to them, it's only property.

"We want to prevent him doing anymore harm."

Police located five .22-calibre bullets at the scene of the robbery at the Mt Eden summit.

The offender was driving a 2010 blue Commodore SV6 with the registration GPH784, stolen from a rental company's lock-up compound near Auckland airport earlier this month.

So far the offender had stolen a collection of wallets and bags, one of which contained a Taiwanese passport.

Mr Beard said police were looking at whether there were any other unsolved crimes committed in the Auckland region.

"It could well be that there have been other people who this offender has confronted who may, for whatever reason, have not contacted police at this stage," he said.

"By all accounts this offender was very calm, knew exactly what he wanted and what he was doing and was calm in his approach. But when he was chased he presented a firearm and discharged it into the ground."

The offender was described as being of Maori appearance, about 180cm tall with short, dark, curly hair.



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