A masked man who robbed bank staff at knifepoint in Hamilton was caught by police soon after thanks to help from the public.

The man went into Westpac Bank in Hamilton East about 3.35pm yesterday, according to Hamilton Police Detective Sergeant Andrew Saunders.

Disguised by a mask and armed with a knife the man demanded money before fleeing the scene in a stolen car.

"A number of bystanders have witnessed the incident and immediately called police to notify them of the man's description and direction of travel," Saunders said.

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A chase ensued but police abandoned it because of the offender's alleged dangerous driving.

But the robber didn't count on the quick actions of concerned witnesses who immediately relayed the man's whereabouts to police.

"A number of people called us to let us know where he was as it was happening, and this has been a huge help."

Saunders said the public played a big part in helping police catch the culprit on Liverpool St in the central business district.

"This is a great example of the community seeing something and doing something about it - this behaviour won't be tolerated and we are pleased to have made a quick arrest."

A 32-year-old man appeared in the Hamilton District Court this morning charged with aggravated robbery, failing to stop for police, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and being an unlicensed driver failing to comply with prohibition.