About eight masked robbers smashed windows and shelves with batons and threatened shoppers during a brazen daylight robbery in one of Auckland's most popular shopping malls.
Armed police and emergency services responded in significant numbers after the robbery at the Stewart Dawsons jewellery store in the Westfield St Lukes shopping mall.
Frightened shoppers ran for cover and others were threatened by the men, whose faces were all covered, said witnesses.
The group of offenders entered the jewellery store on the upper level of the mall about 5pm on Tuesday, smashing cabinets and snatching expensive jewellery before fleeing.
A worker at the nearby Max fashion store said she heard glass shattering and a woman screaming, and rushed outside to see what was happening.
She said she saw about eight men with covered faces smashing everything and anything with massive batons.
The worker said she quickly rolled down the shutters on the Max store, rushed customers into the back room, and locked the door.
She said she assumed the batons were guns at first.
A Herald reporter at the scene said police officers were seen outside the jewellery store after the robbery, talking to clearly shaken witnesses, some of whom were in need of comfort.
Armed police were also at the mall after initial fears there were firearms involved.
Several ambulances responded to the incident but there were no reported injuries. No arrests had been made yet, police said.
A vehicle believed to have been involved was found on Taylors Rd, a block away from the mall.
A policeman on the scene told the Herald that the car was used by the fleeing offenders and had been stolen earlier.
Blood was seen splattered down the side of the car and some jewellery was lying beside the vehicle.
Nearby workers at Muffin Break had also fled after hearing glass shattering and screaming from inside the jewellery store.
They believed this was the third time the shop had been targeted.
A worker from the Coffee Club store said she saw a couple of people run away, wearing all black with either hats or hoods.
Another nearby worker said she thought the men had guns due to the consistency of the smashing sound.
She saw some shoppers try to approach the attackers, only to retreat after the robbers started yelling.
The attack lasted approximately 45 seconds before the group fled, she said.
Police said there were no firearms involved in the incident, and asked anyone with information to contact them via 105, quoting job number P051976791.
Information can also be provided via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.