A top cop says police are working hard and smart to catch the thugs behind a spate of armed robberies in Northland.
Whangarei-Kaipara Area Commander Inspector Tracy Phillips said there had been four arrests for four of the nine aggravated robberies that have rocked the region over a few short weeks. Police expect to lay charges for another three.
Ms Phillips said the robberies had, understandably, left shopkeepers and the public feeling nervous.
"But be assured, we will hunt them down and we will catch them," Ms Phillips said. "Certainly, we're closing the net."
The police and other community safety agents were concerned about "the ripple effect on victims - it's massive".
"As a crime this is very serious ... murder and robbery, it's right up there with murder," she said. "And for what? This is a very serious crime and all for only small amounts of money and sometimes no money."
Armed robbers face spending up to 14 years in jail.
Police are warning that people confronted by robbers should try to stay calm and do as they are asked so as not to inflame the situation.
Crime prevention teams have been visiting shops, businesses and communities they think might be potential targets to reassure them, warn them about behaviour to watch out for and advise them on security measures.
In one of the robberies, an Otangarei Takeaways worker received head injuries and was treated at Whangarei Hospital.
The latest armed robbery was on Monday when two men armed with what looked like a long-barrelled firearm, held up a security van collecting cash from the Kaikohe New World.
Early this month a Kaikohe liquor store was held up by a BB gun toting robber, with arrests made.
Two Northland teenagers were arrested for aggravated robbery after a knifepoint robbery at a service station in Dargaville on September 14.
An arrest has been made over the Onerahi PostShop hold-up by a man with a replica gun on September 9.
Later that day three armed men, one with a knife, another a firearm and the third with a hammer, robbed the Otangarei Takeaway.
A week later the owner of the Vegie Twins on Kamo Rd was confronted and robbed by a man possibly armed with a gun, and a knife-wielding man attempted to rob the Whau Valley Takeaways.
Patels Food Market on Kamo Rd and Destination Dairy on Riverside Drive have also been hit by armed raiders in the past five weeks.
Northland District Criminal Investigations Manager Inspector Kevin Burke said police were "following strong lines of inquiry" for the Vegie Twins, Patels and Otangarei robberies.