Local businesses neighbouring Christchurch’s Gun City are wondering how offenders managed to ram raid the shop, given its extreme security measures.
One of New Zealand’s largest gun stores, Gun City was hit shortly before 2.30am on Friday.
Owner David Tipple told the Herald several people were involved in the ram raid.
According to Tipple, footage from the store showed the offenders stealing an air rifle and a paintball gun as four people entered the gun shop.
Police confirmed four people were involved and Detective Senior Sergeant Damon Wells said police were following strong lines of enquiry.
Officers are working to confirm what was stolen.
“We understand the concern around events involving firearms,” Wells said.
“Police are treating this seriously and are pursuing a number of leads to identify these offenders and locate the items they’ve stolen.
“After leaving the store, we know the offenders have travelled south on Cranford Street in a stolen black Subaru Forester.
“We would ask motorists who were in the area at the time to check their dashcam footage, and for anyone who may have seen either of these vehicles to get in touch with us.”
As daylight broke, staff and contractors had arrived at the shop to sweep up debris and begin repairing the damaged roller doors.
Tipple arrived shortly before 7.30am.
He said the amount stolen from the store was unknown until a stock-take of the products was completed.
Ammunition could be seen strewn across the store.
Ammo boxes later discovered to be filled with glass were lying across the footpath.
Tyre marks led to where the car entered the store; the shop’s glass entrance badly damaged.
As the morning continued, the question on surrounding business owners’ minds is how the offenders managed to breach the entrance of a shop that seemed “impenetrable”.
The Redwood store, the largest of two branches in Christchurch, is built between two shops: Complete Outdoors, which sells outdoor gear, and bike store EMega.
EMega owner Jeremy Joseph told the Herald his outlet had initially felt safer being next to a gun shop, given how strenuous Gun City’s security measures were.
“It’s like a fortress,” he said.
“You look at the security [the offenders] had to go through. We thought it was impenetrable. We looked at the big bollard in front and thought ‘no way’.”
Joseph’s store captured CCTV of the incident, which shows a dark-coloured vehicle backing up to the front doors of Gun City while a second vehicle pulls up outside.
The first vehicle can be seen reversing at speed into the gun shop’s front doors, before making two more attempts to smash the doors without success.
One person got out of the accompanying car as a third and then the fourth attempt was made to crash into Gun City.
Three figures are then seen running towards the store and raiding the shop. It took just 53 seconds for them to grab what they wanted and dump it in the getaway car.
The three returned a second time, stealing more weapons and ammunition before making a getaway.
Watching the footage back, it reminded Joseph of the time his shop had been broken into a year earlier, one of three incidents the store has had during his tenure.
“They took 14 scooters collectively and ransacked the shop. Somehow the alarms didn’t even go off, so we didn’t find out until the following morning,” he said.
“I think about $40,000 worth of stock was stolen. It wasn’t pretty.”
Turning his attention back to Gun City, Joseph said Tipple and the shop’s management would be experiencing a similar gut-wrenching feeling.
“When you arrive it’s first anger that people can come and take what isn’t theirs. Now you look at protecting staff onsite,” he said.
“It’s probably an eye opener now things are happening and they’ll have to see it from the next level, where the next areas are [offenders] could get in.”
On the other side of Gun City, the Complete Outdoors’ shop was pulled into the early morning chaos when its window was smashed during the break-in.
Manager Malcolm Bell was one of the first on the scene after the ram raid and spoke highly of Gun City’s protection measures.
“The store is extremely secure,” he said.
“It’s like Fort Knox, I was really surprised they got hit as [Gun City] pays attention to security.”
A door connecting Bell’s store to Gun City took “serious stuff” to get through, according to Bell, with a roller door and locks securing it.
“You can’t just stick up a gun shop. [The offenders were] very determined. I understand the entrance got bashed several times to get through.”
Like EMega and now his neighbour, Bell’s shop has also been burgled - although not as much was stolen.
He said one of the biggest hits for owners can be the inconvenience.
“You’ve got hundreds of thousands of products to account for. They’ll be going through all the invoices, working through it with insurance companies and it could take five months to go through,” he said.
“That’s mass inconvenience for you.”
Police returned to the scene of the incident at 8am today.
A spokesperson said police were initially called to the store at 2.30am, after it was broken into by four offenders.
“A vehicle has been used to gain entry, and a stolen Mazda Demio has been recovered at the scene. The offenders left in a black Subaru Forester.”
Meanwhile, at about 5.20am, a Stirling Sports store at the Palms Shopping Mall in Shirley was burgled by three men, who used mallets to gain entry.
“The offenders left in a small black car, possibly a Suzuki Swift,” a police spokesman said.
“It is not yet known if the events are linked, however in both cases, CCTV is being reviewed and police are following lines of inquiry to apprehend the offenders.”
Bell said Gun City would certainly be reviewing its security measures.
“If you know anything about Gun City, it’s that they’re thorough in everything they do.”
Anyone who may have seen the Mazda Demio, registration DDF311, or the Subaru Forester, registration LCY783, about this time is asked to call 111 and reference the case number 221202/5373.