By Karina Cooper
A crowbar-wielding thief has snatched thousands of dollars in tobacco products during a raid on a Whangārei service station.
In six months there have been four raids on GAS Tikipunga, with the latest being yesterday's incident at 1.40am while the station was closed.
Security camera footage captured the man, dressed in track pants and a hoodie, using a crowbar to smash his way through the main glass door of the station on Paramount Pde.
He used the crowbar a second time to wrench the cigarette cabinet from the wall, damaging the tills as it crashes down on them.
The man stuffed a backpack with "thousands of dollars" of cigarettes and tobacco products, according to GAS Tikipunga worker Fernando Anderson, and was last seen running towards Corks Rd near the roundabout.
Anderson said the man took a mixture of 50g tobacco packets - worth more than $100 apiece - and 30g tobacco packets which cost around $60 to $70 each, as well as other popular and tailor-made packaged cigarettes. The exact quantity was unknown at edition time yesterday.
Acting Detective Sergeant Ryan Cooper of Northland Police said the public need to be aware if they are offered cheap cigarettes.
"They are likely being offered stolen goods and could be liable for receiving stolen property and held accountable."
Anderson, who has clocked up six years working at the station, said staff receive training to deal with robberies but his family are concerned when he goes to work.
"Our gas station is getting targeted quite a lot. I don't worry but I think my family worries a lot more about me."
Anderson described a situation around a month ago when a man became verbally abusive after being denied a free smoke from the cigarette cabinet.
Anderson tried to use his training: "I kept my hands visible. We are told not to confront people but I didn't have a choice with this guy."
The man, Anderson said, then tried to force his way behind the counter and Anderson was left with no option but to chase the man out of the busy service station.
Anyone with information can contact Whangārei Police on 105, quoting file number 201016/5155 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.