A Hawke's Bay senior citizens group survey of behaviour around money machines has led to it providing small audible personal alarms to members to discourage thieves and robbers.

Age Concern Flaxmere manager Ani Carroll said the survey was done during a Stay Safe project in conjunction with the Hastings District Council last year.

"We watched people at and around ATMs, we saw there was a need, and one of the outcomes was that we purchased an order for the alarms," she said. "Pressing a button, they let out a very loud beeping noise ... within the legal limit."

She said the need has been highlighted again with the robbery of an 87-year-old man in central Hastings at the weekend, and the branch has offered to give the victim one of the alarms.


With the help of the Stay Safe project and a donation by a member, the branch bought 60 of the alarms which are similar to a remote control car key, can be worn with a lanyard or chain, and activated by pressing the button, will alert people in the vicinity to the carrier's plight, and make any potential thieves "go away".

Its next shipment will include some requested by another branch.

Carroll said much of the support for members included education about staying safe, but it would be helpful if alarms could be provided to all members who need them.

As for the reasons for attacks on vulnerable elderly - Saturday's robbery having drawn dozens of angry responses and messages of disgust on social media - Carroll believes victims are often drawn by desperate need.

"Part of this problem is there is likely to be an action and they are looking for a way to pay for it," she said. "I don't know if there are mental health issues."

Meanwhile, police had by early yesterday afternoon issued no further updates on the inquiry following Saturday's incident, which started when the man was followed to his car after shopping at the Hastings Countdown supermarket.

He was then pushed into the rear of the white hatchback, robbed of a wallet and keys while being held down in the footwell and then driven in the vehicle by one of the attackers to a money machine to withdraw money to give to the assailants.

Soon afterwards, the robbers abandoned the vehicle near the supermarket and fled, leaving the victim struggling to get out. He was reported to have not been seriously injured.

Police have said they are seeking a woman thought to be middle-aged and Maori, a younger male and a faded black car, and also information about the movements of the man's white hatchback in the half hour from when the incident began just before 4pm on Saturday, including a short time it was parked near the Mahora shops.

People convicted of aggravated robbery face sentences of up to 14 years' imprisonment.

Meanwhile, more than $400 had been raised by late afternoon yesterday in an appeal launched by Hawke's Bay Today offering the public the chance to help the victim.