Two French tourists are considering leaving New Zealand after they were robbed of nearly all their possessions in a "nasty" violent attack in Bay of Plenty yesterday.
The two 21-year-old men were hitch-hiking from Mt Maunganui heading for Rotorua when they were picked up by two men in a rough-looking black sedan with two men inside.
Detective Sergeant Darryl Brazier, of Tauranga police, said the car drove for about five minutes down State Highway 2 before it pulled into a layby just short of Welcome Bay Rd.
They were assaulted and most of their possessions - including nearly all their clothes, passports, cash cards, cell phones, and one of their backpacks - were stolen.
"They've both received minor injuries where they've had property pulled from their body and one of them has been punched in the face a couple of times," Brazier said.
"This was a nasty robbery with aggravating features of two innocent, defenceless young guys by two criminals who we need to find before they do it again.
"It was a completely unprovoked attack on these two young guys which has left them traumatised and now reconsidering their visit to New Zealand."
The young men managed to write down the registration number of the offenders' car, which they described as a black four-door sedan in rough condition, as it drove away.
It is ZR9879. The vehicle has not been reported as stolen and police are making inquiries about its ownership. It is registered as a black Nissan Pulsar.
Brazier said the two tourists, who speak very little English, had been offered financial support and accommodation from Bay of Plenty locals, which they were very grateful for.
The French Embassy in New Zealand was also helping to get them replacement passports and documents.
"Of course it reflects badly on our country and that's one of the reasons why we want to get these criminals before they do this to anyone else," Brazier said.
"We would like to hear from anyone who saw these hitch-hikers being picked up or dropped off; anyone who saw that vehicle or knows where that vehicle is; or anyone who knows who these offenders are."
Anyone with information was urged to contact Tauranga police on 07 5774300. Alternatively they can call the Crimestoppers line anonymously on 0800 555111.