Police in Napier were tonight searching for three people who robbed a dairy at gunpoint.
Senior Sergeant Dan Foley, of Eastern Police Command Centre, said the robbery happened about 6.30pm when three people, one armed with a rifle, entered the League Park Dairy in Taradale Rd, a short distance from the Napier Fire Station.
They were understood to have pointed the weapon at a shopkeeper and demanded cigarettes and cash, fleeing with a quantity of cigarettes across Taradale Rd, into Henry Hill and Morse streets.
All available police in the Napier area converged on the scene and were still seeking the offenders over an hour later.
Descriptions were still being clarified, but it was possible one was a female. All wore dark clothing but one had a brown hooded top.
It was the latest in a string of robberies targeting cigarettes and other tobacco products in Hawke's Bay since May 26 - the day further cigarette and tobacco price increases were confirmed in Budget 2016.
According Hawke's Bay Today files there have been at least 17 robberies, an average of one a week, and almost all in the Napier-Hastings area. But tonight's was possibly the first using a firearm, others having a featured a machete, knives and such other weapons as a hammer. Arrests have been made in relation to six of the hold-ups.
Anyone with information that could be connected to the raids were being asked to contact the police.