A female robber walked into a dairy yesterday and pointed a handgun at its owner, telling him: "I don't want to hurt you."

Police swarmed into the Halfway Bush area of Dunedin after the attempted robbery about 7.50am yesterday.

The store was cordoned off while officers carried out a scene examination and inquiries. It was the second time in two months that staff in the shop had been held up at gunpoint.

The shop owner, who did not want to be identified, said he felt crime was escalating in the city.

Advertisement

"It's happening so many times you get used to it. Dunedin's meant to be safe, but it doesn't feel like it."

He was preoccupied by his phone when the woman, whose face was covered by a scarf, walked in with a handgun.

"I don't know if it was a real one or not," he said. "I stood here checking the internet and she walked in and she said, 'I don't want to hurt you'."

He fled into the adjoining flat, locked the door and called for his family to call police.

"She just ran away," he said. "It was just three or four seconds."

The woman left without taking anything.

In May, the shop was robbed by a man with a rifle. On that occasion the robber entered shortly before 11am on May 2 and pointed a rifle at the shop attendant. He stole cash and tobacco before fleeing.

"This stuff happens so often," the store owner said. "I know it's going to happen again. If you run a dairy it's always a target but it just happens more frequently now.

Advertisement

"You always worry, but you have to get used to that."

He believed the Government should invest in a wider-reaching street surveillance camera network, which would help police identify cars and offenders involved in robberies.

"I think the Government should do something," he said. "They get a lot of tax from us. They should do something to improve the security of the community. Even my local people they don't feel safe now."

Despite the threat of robbery, he said he would continue to stock cigarettes and tobacco as the business would not be sustainable without them.

"If you don't sell cigarettes then the shop has to close - that's just a fact. For us it's about survival."

In May, police launched a month-long campaign offering cash rewards for information leading to the prosecution of those selling black market tobacco.

Advertisement