A man was allegedly forced to withdraw money from an automatic teller machine in central Whangarei and stash the cash in a garden bed before two men returned and unearthed the $200.

The attack started on Friday night about 11.30pm as a 20-year-old man was preparing to go home for the night, when he struck up a conversation with two men outside the Rathbone St toilets in central Whangarei.

Whangarei police Sergeant Paul Nicholas said the man then left and walked down Butter Factory Lane towards Quest apartments, when the two men caught up with him, knocking him to the ground and taking his iPhone and wallet. The 20-year-old gave chase and confronted the pair a short way down the alley, where they allegedly threatened to beat him up if he did not withdraw money from his bank account.

The men returned the 20-year-old's phone and wallet to him and walked behind him to the ASB ATM on Rathbone St.

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They told him to withdraw money and leave it in the garden bed, which he did, withdrawing $200 and putting it in the raised garden before running off. Mr Nicholas said the incident was "completely bizarre" but there was good security camera footage of it and police were confident they could catch those responsible.