A normally sleepy Kerikeri road was locked down by armed police this morning during a drama that started with a simple petrol theft.

It is understood two men stole $40 worth of petrol from a service station just before 9am this morning. A witness reported seeing a gun in their car so police responded in numbers and armed themselves with rifles.

Police arrived moments after the pair ditched their car in a driveway at Darwin Rd, off Kerikeri Inlet Rd.

One man was arrested immediately while the other fled on foot.

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Police closed off the road and checked the boots of vehicles leaving the area. They told residents to secure their houses and stay indoors.

A police tracking dog arrived from Mangonui at 10am and searched an unoccupied property next door to the house where the car was dumped.

Darwin Rd residents returning from errands in town had to wait at the end of the road until police lifted the cordon and gave the all clear about 10.40am.

Officers told the residents they believed the man was no longer in the area.

Enquiries to find the second man, who is understood to be wanted on other matters, are continuing.