Panmure robbery spoils move

ON TAPE: Police would like to speak to these two men captured on CCTV footage before an aggravated robbery in a Panmure shop.
ON TAPE: Police would like to speak to these two men captured on CCTV footage before an aggravated robbery in a Panmure shop.

Deepak and Monica Kukreja moved to New Zealand for a better life but were completely taken aback after being robbed at knifepoint by two men in their Panmure store.

They were closing up at DK's Mobiles and More on Queens Rd about 6.30pm on November 30 when a man walked into the shop asking about a mobile phone.

Mr Kukreja started showing him a model when another man entered the store.

The second man created a scene as a diversion. He accused the first man of crashing into his car and asked if he could use the shop phone to contact the police.

Mr Kukreja obliged and the man pretended to make the call.

The other man locked the door and started hitting Mr Kukreja in the face and hands, breaking his glasses and making his nose bleed.

Mrs Kukreja tried to intervene and the second man started beating her. Mrs Kukreja has bruising on her abdomen from where the men kicked her. She and her husband's wrists still bear the scars from where they were tied up.

Mrs Kukreja says: "We couldn't believe what was happening. They held a knife up to my face and said if I spoke a word they would murder my husband.

"They tied up our wrists and ankles and put tape on our faces. They left us lying in the back office."

The men, who appeared to be of Maori or Pacific Island descent, loaded plastic bags with the day's takings as well as most of the stock in the shop, including mobile phones, cigarettes and branded perfumes. They demanded Mr Kukreja's car keys and took his car, which has since been recovered.

The robbers were careful to cover their tracks. They removed evidence such as fingerprints and took the store's security system, Mrs Kukreja says.

Mr Kukreja managed to break the ties around his ankles after the two-hour ordeal and ran to the nearby Chinese restaurant for help. Insurance will replace missing stock but the psychological effects remain.

The couple asked not to be photographed for this story, for fear of retribution.

The Kukrejas arrived in Auckland on May 13 on a business visa and opened the shop about three months ago.

They chose New Zealand because they thought their son, 14, and daughter, 12, would receive a better education and future here.

"We thought New Zealand was a safe country.

"We need better security in the Panmure area."

Detective Sergeant Graham Shand of Glen Innes Police would like help to identify the two men in the CCTV image. Contact Glen Innes police on 027 496 7886 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 if you have any information which may help with this case, which is called Operation Zane.

East And Bays Courier