Two heavily masked and disguised robbers had to flee for their own lives early yesterday as a corner-store owner and his son decided they were not going to put up with another raid on their dairy in Napier.

It was just 5.40am when robbers armed with a crowbar and a hammer burst into the Te Awa Dairy, at the intersection of Ellison St, Nuffield Ave and Georges Dr, and just moments later the robbers took to their scrapers, with only bruises and possible cuts to show for their efforts. Nothing was reported stolen.

"It was very quick," said Detective Glenn Restieaux, of Hawke's Bay CIB. He estimated at least one of the robbers would have been injured.

It was the second fruitless attempt to rob the store in seven weeks, at least one robber fleeing on the night of July 8 as the woman at the counter retreated to the rear of the store to get help. The same store had been robbed at least two times previously, in 2006 and 2010, while nearby Creagh St Store has also been a target in the past.


The two offenders in yesterday's botch-up, an aggravated robbery attempt which could be punishable by up to 14 years' jail, were last reported to have been fleeing on foot in Nuffield Ave heading towards Marewa, but it was not known if they had headed into Chambers St.

It was the second dairy or service station robbery involving use of weapons in Napier this week, coming as Hawke's Bay Today was preparing a special feature on the escalating number of dangerous robberies taking place in Hawke's Bay, with at least 13 targeting cigarettes and cash dating back to the day of Government Budget announcements of further increases in the price of tobacco products.

There has also been at least one aggravated robbery in the street, in which a man making his way home in Napier in the early morning was struck repeatedly with a skateboard and robbed of a cellphone, cards, and other items.

Hawke's Bay CIB officer-in-charge of investigations Detective Senior Sergeant Martin James said police believes there were likely to have been other incidents which hadn't been reported.

Males and females are suspects, and in an attempt to stop further robberies, police have embarked on a prevention campaign with dairy and bar proprietors and others stocking cigarettes and tobacco with advice on how they can make themselves less vulnerable.