Hold-up no time for heroics
Police say people who are threatened by thieves brandishing weapons should be meek and obedient.
Armed and disguised robbers have hit six alcohol on-licences during the past few months, menacing staff and customers with pistols, rifles, screwdrivers, hammers and knives in a cool, collected manner.
Detective Inspector Dave Lynch says the bunch is likely to strike again and if people are caught up in it they should act in a non-threatening way and follow instructions.
"We don't want people trying to be heroes," he says.
A group of three to six suspects are believed to be responsible for the recent holdups, four of which were in the eastern suburbs, the most recent in Manurewa on December 2.
"One of the hallmarks of at least three of these robberies is that an offender or offenders had crossed essentially a public area already disguised up and with a weapon in full sight."
Mr Lynch says there are also similarities with weapons and descriptions of the offenders, and police are working through a "pool of suspect nominations".
"We've got fairly regular offences through that two-month period. Whilst we would like to think they are not going to offend again, it's likely they will carry on until they get caught."
Mr Lynch sent a letter to licensees through Hospitality New Zealand on December 5 asking them to brief staff to minimise the chance of somebody getting hurt.
It advises them to be vigilant and have an early warning system in place to notify police as soon as anything suspicious is seen.
Owners should also review their CCTV coverage and review cash handling procedures and security.
"If a robbery does occur, staff should be reminded to be observant, but behave in a non-threatening manner and to do their best to ensure any patrons do not attempt to intervene or cause the offenders to be threatened.
"Certainly we are asking people to be vigilant around any of the licensed premises and ring 111 if they see any suspicious activity straight away."
In 2002 Pakuranga pizza worker Marcus Doig and bank teller John Vaughan were killed during a spate of 12 armed robberies in south and east Auckland.
Anyone with information on the recent robberies is urged to call police on 261 1300 or Crimestoppers anonymously on phone 0800 555 111.