Two armed and hooded men forced terrified bank customers to the ground in a daring daytime heist yesterday.
They took money from one of the customers and smashed open the bank's cash drawers.
The two men, dressed in black and armed with a rifle and a crowbar, entered the ASB Bank in Three Kings Plaza, Auckland, shortly after 9am.
They threatened the bank's security guard with the gun, then ordered the five customers to the ground.
One of the men held them at gunpoint while the other jemmied open a door and prised open the tills with a crowbar, taking an undisclosed amount of cash.
Four staff were in the bank at the time, police said. The two men were still at large last night.
As the customers cowered, the robber with the gun snatched cash from the hand of one woman.
Security camera images show two customers lying face down with their hands over their heads.
To get away, the robbers used a silver Mitsubishi Airtrek stationwagon stolen the night before while its owner was at a Sandringham Rd restaurant opposite Eden Park.
Adrian Reid, manager of Heritage Tiles' showroom in Parnell, had picked up friends before going to Papa's Italian eatery about 7.30pm.
He parked on Rossmay Tce, about 100m from the restaurant.
Soon after the group sat down, Mr Reid's phone, which was still in the car, started ringing one of the friends he was with, having been triggered by the Bluetooth device when the car was started.
"She said, 'Why are you ringing me?' I said, 'No, my phone's in the car'. So we hopped up and went to get my phone out of my car and the car was gone. It was a matter of 18 minutes from when we pulled up."
The robbers yesterday fled the bank in Mr Reid's stationwagon and abandoned it on a nearby road.
"Apparently it's quite trashed inside," Mr Reid said.
"[The police officer] said there were chips and Red Bull cans through the car, so who knows what they were doing. It's all very, very weird."
ASB fraud and security general manager Fred Revell said the bank would reimburse the customer whose money was stolen from her hand.
Psychologist Sara Chatwin said victims of an armed robbery could suffer in a variety of ways.
They might go into shock, have nightmares, flashbacks or suffer post-traumatic stress disorder even months later. Their ability to trust others and enter banks or shops in the future might be impaired.
"This is not an every-day event, not a pleasant event, [it's] an extreme event," Ms Chatwin said.
"People see this in movies, they see it on TV, it is not a reality for a lot of people so it puts the experience right on the fringe and people just aren't prepared for it.
"Obviously your life flashes before your eyes ... Nobody can be prepared for this. It is incredibly stressful."