Dramatic footage of the moment Rotorua Councillor Raj Kumar's dairy was robbed by young men wielding a hammer and pole has been captured on security camera.
"It all happened in less than two minutes," Kumar told the Rotorua Daily Post this morning. The offenders, who Kumar described as "young boys", entered his store on the corner of Springfield and Otonga Rds about 6.30pm on Sunday.
He said they were armed with a "hammer and a pole".
One of them jumped the counter to try to get money from the till, while the other headed straight to the cigarette cabinet.
The worker on at the time ran to a nearby fish and chip shop to ring the police, as the criminals left in a car with cigarettes.
After the worker rung police, he called Kumar to let them know what had happened.
"I dropped everything.. my family are down from Auckland and I just said I have to go, our family business has been robbed."
It was the first time the business had been robbed in 21 years.
Kumar and his wife managed to beat police there and also found a number of concerned residents and other worried dairy owners waiting outside.
Many rushed from their homes in the night to offer their help, whether it be guarding the shop or just wanting to give them a hug.
"There was so much concern from everyone, it was so heartwarming."
"This place is like a family... I have never once felt scared walking in here," Kumar said.
He said it was something they had almost expected to happen at some stage as dairies were often prey for robbers.
"I knew this could happen at some point, we were never going to be immune from it."
The reason he believed they had not been targetted was that he knew pretty well every customer by name, their families and there was no animosity.
"I don't believe any of my customers are the angry, violent types.
"Rotorua isn't a bad place, it's a beautiful one and these things can happen anywhere."
However, he said it was a "shameful" thing to happen in the community, especially due to how hard they work to lift the profile of the city, he said.
When the Rotorua Daily Post initially reported the robbery, more than 100 comments of support flowed in for Kumar and his family.
Many sent their love and best wishes, while others expressed outrage at something like this happening to such a "hardworking family".
"Your family have the community's support," one commenter wrote.
Kumar said he would be putting an extra person on each night for safety and already had a good security system and CCTV cameras in place.
"We are not vigilantes, we are not fighters ... my staff know they can do what they have to do to keep safe in these situations.
He said he had always told his staff to protect themselves first and that the money and items did not matter when it came to safety.
"I tell them not to try to be a hero or fight back."
Kumar would be offering counselling to the worker involved, as well as giving him leave for as long as he needed.
The robbers had left fingerprints on many surfaces they touched, which police came and collected straight away, he said.
He had a strong faith in the system after his local restaurant Nandos was robbed in 2009 and DNA from a leftover Fanta bottle lead to the arrest of the person involved, he said.
Police were at the store making inquiries both last night and this morning.
A police spokeswoman said they were investigating after the two offenders had taken cigarettes and left in a car.