Copycat robbers receive warning

By Kathryn King

Whanganui Police are still seeking information on three youths who held up the Castlecliff Four Square with a tomahawk at the weekend, the latest incident in a spate of robberies in the city.

And police are warning copycats to think again, with a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail awaiting those who commit such crimes.

The shop was targeted on Saturday night and saw three young men, believed to be in their mid to late teens, threaten the shopkeeper with a tomahawk and escape with cash and cigarettes in a stolen Subaru Forester stationwagon.

The car was found in the shed of an unoccupied Cornfoot St house, having been reported stolen on August 20, the day the Fitzherbert Ave dairy was robbed.

Whanganui CIB detective senior sergeant David Kirby said one youth wore a distinctive green Boston Celtics basketball singlet with the number 01, light-coloured tracksuit pants and black shoes.

The others wore dark jackets and pants. One had a hooded jacket and the other wore a vest over his jacket. Scarves and hoods obscured their faces.

Mr Kirby said robberies tended to come in cycles and, over the past three months, there had been an increase in the number of robberies of dairies, shops and residential homes.

While some arrests had been made, including those responsible for brandishing a knife at the Rangitikei St store, others, like Saturday's robbery and two recent robberies of the Fitzherbert Ave Dairy, were ongoing investigations.

In particular, the increase in frequency of robberies of cigarette outlets had increased since cigarette prices had gone up.

However, Mr Kirby warned anyone contemplating such an offence as an easy, quick way to get cigarettes and cash that they would be caught and faced a maximum 14 years in prison.

As in the latest robbery, where two witnesses were in the shop at the time it was held up, Mr Kirby said people who found themselves in that situation were advised not to aggravate the situation.

If possible, they should take a good look at the offenders, taking in details of their clothing, voice and facial features - but only if they could do it safely.

Robbers were usually in a heightened state of excitement and it didn't take much for them to do things they hadn't planned, including harming people.

Whanganui Police would like to hear from anyone aware of cigarettes being sold cheaply, or who saw the Subaru stationwagon from Saturday's robbery between August 20 and 26 or knew anything about the distinctive basketball singlet or the robbers. Contact Constable Tim Cameron, on 349 0672.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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