Hammer attacks to the head and a front counter smashed with hockey sticks has left Whanganui dairy owners fearing for their lives.
Two Whanganui dairies on opposite sides of town were robbed two hours apart on Saturday - police say they are unsure at this stage if the burglaries are linked.
At around 5.20pm on Saturday four males, described as in their late teens, entered a dairy on Rangitikei Street in Whanganui East, one robber carried a hammer.
Store owner Mr Zhou, 55, said the teenagers came running into his store demanding cigarettes and cash.
"One leant over the counter and hit me in the head with a hammer a few times. I had my head down leaning on the counter not wanting any trouble," he said.
His wife said a female friend, who was at the back of the store, came rushing out when she heard the noise.
"She tried to help my husband but that only made the robbers attack her more brutally."
Not being able to access cigarettes or cash, the thieves took various items of food and fled.
Mrs Zhou said the ambulance arrived 10 minutes later and her husband and friend were taken to Whanganui Hospital.
"They were discharged at around 10pm with serious injuries but not life-threatening. My husband has nine stitches to his head and my friend has nearly 30 stitches."
The couple have owned the dairy for more than 10 years and it is only recetly that they have started to get trouble.
"This kind of thing only used to happen in Auckland and we thought Whanganui was a safe place," Mr Zhou said.
"Now, every day we are scared for our lives ... but we have a business to run."
Two hours later -- at 7.36pm -- police were alerted to a robbery of a dairy on Polson Street, Castlecliff.
Polson Street dairy owner Wayne was working as usual, with his three children aged between three and 8 and his wife sitting right behind the counter.
Wayne said "two little kids" came into the store with hockey sticks.
"The only looked about 13 or 14 years old ... they wanted smokes and money.
"They smashed the front counter which was made of glass and yelled, 'Give me money and cigarettes'."
Wayne said he tried to fight back and they got scared and left.
"My little kids watched in fear as this happened and to think it was kids doing it ... it's quite concerning.
"Every day in shop we have to keep our eyes out ... any noise and we get spooked. If someone comes running into the store it gives us a fright now but life is life and we have to keep on working."
A police spokeswoman said the investigation into the Rangitikei Street raid was ongoing and police were appealing for information from anyone who may have been in the area at the time or seen four people running away from the store.
With regard to Polson Street, she said police had spoken to two youths, and inquiries were continuing. Nothing was stolen.
Anyone with information should contact local police, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.