Two young men were beaten with a piece of four-by-two by four teens seeking cash, alcohol and cigarettes in the third robbery at an Auckland liquor store in as many weeks.
The men, aged 26 and 24, were working at Legends Liquor on Duke St, Three Kings when the shop was stormed by four teens about 9.30pm on Saturday night.
CCTV footage shows the men being attacked. One is beaten around his head and the other is smashed against the counter while the group fill a bag with cash, cigarettes and alcohol. The men try to defend themselves by raising their arms and trying to run away, but are held back and beaten further.
The robbery is the latest in a spate of similar incidents around the country, with Statistics New Zealand crime figures for the year to June 30 showing a 12 per cent increase in robberies across the country.
Owner of the liquor store, Jeff Wu, said his staff were badly injured and shaken by the ordeal.
They were both taken to hospital, one had to have stitches in his head and the other had a knee injury.
Wu said it was the third time the store has been robbed in as many weeks. He has two other stores in Mangere and Flat Bush and combined the three have been robbed six times in the past month.
"Before they used to steal by grabbing and running, or just saying what they want and threatening to hurt. Now things are getting more serious and they come here to smash people.
"They just wanted to keep beating up the guys. They are young kids but they are very big."
There had been more robberies at his stores this year than the previous three years combined, he said.
"This year is very serious."
Wu said he believed cigarette price hikes and too lenient punishment for young offenders was to blame for the increase in robberies.
Imperial Tobacco spokeswoman Louise Evans McDonald said this month that the company had "definitely seen" an increase in its retailers being targeted, and were working with them on safety and security.
Police yesterday appealed for public help identifying three teenage girls who robbed Arkwright's Dairy on Hastings St, Napier. The girls wore dark clothing and obscured their faces with sunglasses when they robbed the store about 6.30pm, stealing Holiday brand cigarettes.
A police spokesman said police conducted a full scene examination at the Three Kings store yesterday morning and evidence continued to be gathered. "At this stage a full stock take has not been conducted so we don't have a full list of what was taken, however, we do know that cigarettes were targeted.
"Police have not yet been able to obtain a detailed description of the offenders. It is believed they are young men, aged between 17-25 years old and of average height. They were described as wearing dark clothes with their faces covered."
The spokesman said police were aware the shop had been robbed in July and were investigating whether the incidents were connected.
"At this early stage in the investigation, police cannot speculate on the reason this store is being targeted over others. Police will be working with the owners on prevention measures to prevent further offending.
"Cigarettes have always been targeted in robberies and burglaries as they are easy to transport and sell on."
How to help
• Auckland City Police 09 302 6400
• Hawke's Bay Police 06 873 0500
• Crimestoppers 0800 555 111