Standing behind the counter of his relatives' liquor store with a rifle pointed at him, Nitin Kumar said he had no other choice but to tell an alleged robber to take whatever he wanted.
One teenage boy headed for the beer chiller at the rear of Cherrywood Liquor while another stood just outside the entrance with the gun pointing at Mr Kumar.
The robbery happened at 2.50pm yesterday and saw police swarm Cherrywood Shopping Centre and the surrounding area.
Mr Kumar, 20, said he was unsure if the person with the rifle was going to shoot him or not.
"He has a gun, he can do anything," he said.
He said he stood behind the counter for the time it took for the man to take the beer from the chiller.
"I just said take it."
Mr Kumar arrived in New Zealand 11 months ago from India and works for his aunt and uncle in the store.
Earlier in the day about 12.15pm a male, who Mr Kumar believes was one of the offenders, entered the store and stole a box of Steinlager and a bottle of spirits. Mr Kumar said he had contacted police but they were yet to visit the store before the robbery.
Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner said three teenagers had been jointly charged with aggravated robbery.
Mr Turner alleged a 16-year-old and 17-year-old entered the store with a rifle and took two boxes of beer after threatening a staff member with the weapon.
He said a third teen, aged 16, drove the two boys from the shopping centre. The trio were from Tauranga and Matamata.
They were due to appear in Tauranga Youth Court today.
Mr Turner said the weapon was found in an older model Mazda.
He said there was a possibility it was an air gun.
The public provided police with information that led to the Mazda in which the alleged robbers were travelling being found parked outside the rear gate to Otumoetai Intermediate School on Ngatai Rd. The alleged offenders were found by police near tennis courts on Windsor Rd. A police dog was used to track the trio.
"Good information from witnesses resulted in a police patrol locating the three at a park consuming the beer shortly afterwards," Mr Turner said.
Tauranga man Mark Schuler was heading to the Otumoetai swimming pool about 3.45pm, when he noticed in a park a number of empty beer bottles along with two beanies and two cigarette lighters on the ground.
"It looked like someone had been having a party," he said.
Also in the area were a number of unopened beer bottles.
Matua resident Val Penny said she was driving behind a Mazda on Freyberg St when the vehicle stopped in the middle of the road, holding up traffic. When she tooted at the car, the occupants made rude gestures out the windows.
"They were certainly driving extremely dangerously," she said.