A Levin dairy owner has chased robbers away before, but when a man pulled a machete while three customers were in the store his first thought was for their safety.
Jayesh Patel says he was serving a customer when the robbery took place at his Tiro Tiro Rd Dairy at about 8.10pm on July 3.
''I didn't see him coming in, and then all of a sudden he had a big machete and had covered his face with a balaclava.
''He showed me his machete in one hand and had got a bag and he said 'give me all your money'.''
Six years ago Patel turned the tables on robbers who also tried to rob him at knifepoint while he was on the job.
''I was alone, so I tried to chase them away, yelling, and they didn't take anything last time.''
This time he handed over the cash from his till without a thought, worried for his customers.
''They were scared too, he asked them to leave, but they just ran to the other corners of the shop. One of them was a college kid.
''I had to think about them as well, if they get hurt ... I'm behind the counter, and they are closer to that fella.''
Patel handed over the day's takings, then the robber left. The encounter ''happened so quickly'', he said.
One of the customers followed the robber, who ran south down Tiro Tiro Rd, and was able to tell police the man had run into a driveway in Elizabeth St.
The customers were all fine, Patel said, but the incident had been costly for his family.
''I'm gutted; angry.''
The experience hadn't put him off the job, and support from his customers had been strong.
''The next morning I was up for work at 6am in the morning, no problems.''
Patel appealed for anyone who knew anything about the robbery to contact police.
Police have released a description of the man, who is thought to be Maori, aged 20 to 30, 173cm tall (five foot eight), wearing a grey or green coloured jacket and light blue jeans, and carrying a black bag.
Detective Richard Morse said the robber may have had a getaway vehicle waiting on Elizabeth St.
Anyone with information about the robbery, or suspicious activities on Elizabeth St beforehand should contact Levin police, 366 0564, or Crimestoppers, 0800 555 111.
- Horowhenua Mail