Police investigating the armed robbery of a security van at a busy West Auckland shopping mall yesterday say the public can play an essential role in finding the offenders.

Several shots were fired, scattering shoppers, when gunmen demanded cash from two Chubb security guards at Lynn Mall just before 5pm yesterday.

The guards were confronted as they returned to their van from the ASB Bank.

Witnesses said several shots rang out before the robbers fled with an unknown amount of cash to their getaway vehicle.

The guards were shaken but unhurt.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Sutton of Henderson police said information was being sought on two vehicles.

The offenders fled in a stolen, white/silver Mitsubishi Pajero which was later found on fire at Craig Avon Park in New Lynn.

A second stolen vehicle believed to be involved was found on fire in Three Kings, on the corner of St Andrews Rd and Rowan Court, about an hour after the robbery.

"Members of the public may have seen these vehicles being set on fire and also persons departing both scenes at New Lynn and Three Kings," Mr Sutton said.

Police were also interested in sightings of either vehicle between 4pm and 4.45pm yesterday.

Anyone with information on the armed robbery can phone 09-839-0600.