Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy and are looking for a second offender after a ''cowardly and vicious'' knife-point robbery that left a Northland shopkeeper traumatised.
Detective Sergeant Chris Fouhy, of Mid North police, said two knife-wielding youths entered the Omapere Foodmart in South Hokianga about 6pm on Tuesday.
One of the offenders grabbed the shopkeeper by his T-shirt and demanded money, then held the knife close to his face while the shopkeeper emptied the contents of the till into a bag.
In the meantime a second youth helped himself to cigarettes from a cabinet behind the counter.
Both offenders had their faces covered with hoodies and bandannas during the robbery, Mr Fouhy said.
Police located a 14-year-old boy a short time later. He was arrested and appeared in the Kaikohe Youth Court on Wednesday charged with aggravated robbery. He had been bailed into his family's care.
The offender who held the knife to the shopkeeper's face had yet to be located.
''This is an particularly concerning attack that could easily have resulted in serious injuries to the shopkeeper. It was cowardly and vicious in nature and has left the victim and his family traumatised,'' Mr Fouhy said.
Omapere Foodmart is owned by Sanjay and Sapna Patel, who came from Auckland just four months ago.
Mrs Patel said she and her husband had gone downstairs to their flat for a cup of tea, leaving her brother Hitendra, 30, in charge.
She believed the robbers had been waiting until he was alone and there were no customers in the shop. Her brother couldn't run because he had a knife to his face.
''It was very scary,'' she said.
However, Mrs Patel said her brother had recovered from the shock, was back at work and had even gone looking for the youths with her husband.
Louis Toorenburg, South Hokianga representative on the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board, said it was sad to see hard-working people and their livelihoods threatened.
There had also been ram-raids and robberies in Opononi and Rawene in recent weeks.
Some businesses had stopped stocking cigarettes because the risk of break-ins or robberies was too great. If it continued he worried that some could give up altogether.
''If it happens too often the shop owners will say, 'Stuff it, we're out of here'. It's a sad state of affairs.''
He was also saddened that the offenders were so young.
''Why do they do it? Do they not see any hope for the future?''
Mr Fouhy said the Omapere robbery was the latest in a spate of similar offences by Mid North youth. Other incidents include aggravated robberies at a Waipapa service station, Kaikohe McDonald's, and two Kaikohe dairies.
Mr Fouhy urged anyone with information about the Omapere robbery, or who had seen suspicious activity around 6pm on Tuesday, to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the Kaikohe police station on (09) 405 2966 or (09) 405 2973.
Plenty of people were around at that time and would have seen something, he said.