Z Energy is calling on the public to help identify offenders allegedly behind three separate robberies at its petrol stations in the past week.

A growing demand for black market cigarettes is believed to be the driving force behind a streak of violent robberies in Auckland.

Z posted CCTV footage to its Facebook page showing the robberies at its stations in Pakuranga, Kingsway and Papakura.

These people robbed us.

Recently we've been robbed & our staff attacked. That's not ok. Watch, & help catch them

Posted by Z Energy on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

In each case, two stolen vehicles were allegedly driven on to the site, with the offenders smashing their way into the site, targeting tobacco and eventually fleeing with a small quantity of cigarettes, according to Z.


In one of the robberies an attendant was kicked and narrowly dodged a tyre iron being swung at him.

"Z has taken the step of posting footage of some of the offenders on the company's Facebook page in the hope that these people are identified by members of the public and then apprehended as soon as possible - before more people are hurt...

"We're not prepared to sit by and do nothing about it."

Z believed some of the same people were involved in each of the robberies.

"We're encouraging anybody who recognises these people to let the police know."

Counties Manukau Police set up a special investigations unit earlier this year to solve 10 aggravated robberies at service stations in the region.

Two months later, 12 people have been arrested in relation to seven of the alleged robberies - with police noting a trend of black market cigarettes and tobacco as motivation for the crimes.

Counties Manukau Detective Sergeant Karen Bright said 11 men and one woman aged between 16 and 23 had been arrested and charged with a range of offences, including receiving stolen goods.

A key to cracking the cases was tips from people who had been offered the goods cheaply, she said.

"It appeared that cigarettes were being targeted and we know that the community is being offered them for sale. There have been cigarettes for sale on [online] forums but mainly offered to people that [the offenders] know."

The special unit was established in January after the robberies began escalating in frequency and violence.