As armed men smashed their way into a service station, the sole attendant triggered the store's fog cannon.

But it failed to stop the three men, armed with a hammer and golf clubs, making off with an unknown amount of cigarettes and till from the Cambridge Rd, Hamilton, Caltex about 3am today.

Waikato Senior Sergeant Phil Ruddell praised the staff member's actions in setting off the fog cannon and locking himself in the "safe room".

"The attendant did all the right things."

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The robbers fled in a white Subaru Forester.

"Police have the registration number of that and will be making contact with the registerd owner."

It's unknown if the vehicle was stolen.

Ruddell urged anyone who noticed the vehicle in the Hillcrest area or saw any suspicious activity around the service station at that time to contact them on (07) 8586200.