Police arrested a man in Tauranga last night after an armed robbery at a city store.
Western Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said a balaclava-clad man entered the Lenz Superette on Cameron Rd armed with a pistol about 4.55pm yesterday. Less than an hour later police cornered the suspect at a city motel.
Mr Paxton said the robber had been armed with a pistol when he entered the store. He made an unsuccessful attempt to take money and instead left with an armful of cigarettes.
Mr Paxton said the occupants of the shop hid at the back of the store until the offender left the store and fled in a car.
Members of the public phoned police to report a white vehicle leaving the area and soon after police received reports of a suspicious vehicle in the Tauranga central area, Mr Paxton said.
Police found the man and arrested him as he got out of his car at Cobblestone Court Motel on Chapel St.
Police also found a firearm.
A staff member at the motel confirmed the arrested man had not been a guest.
She did not see the arrest take place but said it was a "scary" situation for staff and guests.
Shay Goodhue, a regular customer at the dairy and friend of the owner, said he saw a man running from the store as he arrived.
"I didn't think nothing of it. I just thought he didn't want to get wet (as it was raining)."
The owner stopped Mr Goodhue at the door and told him the shop was closed as he had just been robbed.
"He was a bit stressed out," Mr Goodhue said.
A staff member at the florist shop next door said she heard screeching of car tyres and ran out to find that two cars had almost collided. One of the cars then sped away.
Mr Paxton praised the actions of those who called police and said it was their help that led to the apprehension of the alleged robber.
"I am very grateful for the actions of these community members in notifying police of this incident and the swift response of our members ensuring the apprehension of this male.
"Incidents such as these can pose a real and substantial risk to our communities and staff and I am grateful for the swift resolution."
A 28-year-old Tauranga man was to appear in the Tauranga District Court today, charged with aggravated robbery.