Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Masked robber's arson, robbery rampage in Waikato

A masked robber smashed his way through the front, glass door of Jai Jalaram Piopio Foodmart using a crowbar. Photo / Supplied
A masked robber smashed his way through the front, glass door of Jai Jalaram Piopio Foodmart using a crowbar. Photo / Supplied

Masked intruders are being investigated by police in relation to two separate incidents.

However, police are yet to confirm whether either incident - in Piopio and Hamilton - are linked.

In the first incident, a 21-year-old woman was doing book work at the Jai Jalaram Piopio Foodmart about 12.45am today when she heard a smashing sound.

On the other side of a wall, a man - wearing a white mask - had smashed his way through the front window, walked to the back of the superette, grabbed a Molotov cocktail out of his backpack, lit it and thrown it against the wall.

Waikato fire risk management officer Jess Kukutai said the woman was so scared she decided to stay still and ring emergency services. The arsonist then went to the front counter to grab cigarettes when the woman decided to peak through the door.

A mask similar to this is believed to have been worn in the Piopio arson. Photo / Supplied
A mask similar to this is believed to have been worn in the Piopio arson. Photo / Supplied

Knowing a fire was taking hold, the young woman filled a jug with water and poured it on the fire as the masked robber saw her. Spooked, the man jumped over the front counter and left.

Kukutai said the premises did not have a sprinkler system or smoke alarms and said it was lucky the young woman was awake when the incident happened.

"There's no fire security there, there's no fire alarms, no smoke alarms, not a single thing. This girl could have died if she was asleep, there's no doubt in my mind she would have died today."

The offender in that incident wore a white mask, white gloves and was carrying a crowbar.

In Hamilton, several hours later, a masked man - wearing blue jeans, blue gloves, a white skeleton-style mask and armed with a crowbar - broke into the Aleways Inn Hotel in Frankton, Hamilton.

The Hotel's manager told the Herald that a staff member arrived at the premises about 7am and disturbed the man who was already inside.

He then demanded money, telling her "hurry up, I don't want to hurt you" before locking her in the office and fleeing.

Anyone with information regarding the incidents is urged to call Hamilton police on 07 8586200.

- NZ Herald

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