A 17-year-old female faces a serious assault charge after a woman shopkeeper was bashed when she interrupted teenagers allegedly stealing soft drinks from a Hastings dairy on Saturday.
The woman, who with her husband runs the Zodiac Dairy on the corner of Jellicoe and Beatty streets, near Splash Planet in suburban Mayfair, was punched several times about the head after challenging the suspected thieves about 6pm.
She required treatment for facial injuries.
Police said the incident was initially reported as a robbery, but a 17-year-old was arrested and charged with assault with intent to injure, which carries a maximum penalty of three years' jail.
The teenager remained in custody over the weekend awaiting a court appearance in which police are expecting to oppose bail. At least two others, understood to be boys aged under 17, were also involved. The drinks allegedly stolen were recovered.
Three weeks ago a thief was reported to have snatched $300 from the counter of the same dairy, after which shopkeeper Jaskaran Singh said he was surprised to think a local would steal from the shop. There had been no other serious incidents since a Sunday night gunpoint robbery in September 2012.
The raid is not thought to be linked to a winter plague of dairy, bar and service station robberies in Hawke's Bay, mainly in Napier and Hastings.
Almost 20 robberies had been reported since late May, targeting cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Several females are believed to have been involved, with two so far arrested.
One was for a service station incident allegedly carried out with her brother in Havelock North early on May 26, about 12 hours before Minister of Finance Bill English began delivering Budget 2016 in Parliament confirming more tax-based tobacco price increases.
The second was a 19-year-old from Hastings arrested after the most recent, a gunpoint holdup at The Corner Store in Westshore, Napier, on the afternoon of October 7.
At least one woman is believed to have been involved in the robbery of the League Park Dairy, Napier, on the night of September 16, and females are also suspected to have been involved in at least two of the earlier incidents.