Youths assault shop owner, take synthetic dope

A Palmerston North shop owner was assaulted when two youths jumped over the counter of his dairy and stole synthetic cannabis.

Police are looking for three youths, believed to be under 17, who entered the Kelvin Grove Mini Market on Rhodes Drive about 3pm on Thursday.

After they entered the store, two climbed over the counter to reach the synthetic cannabis, while the other remained in the shop. The shop owner, a 48-year-old man, confronted the youth in the shop, and a scuffle broke out.

The youth allegedly assaulted the shop owner, before being joined by the other two, who jumped back over the counter.

Detective Sergeant Dave Thompson said the pair tried to pull their accomplice out of the shop owner's grip.

"They've got involved in the altercation but only to free the other person from it so they could get away," he said.

During the scuffle the boy's hoody and T-shirt came off. As he was fleeing, he managed to grab his T-shirt, but his white hoody was left in the shop. Police are testing it for forensic evidence.

The shop owner's wife said that the incident had been "very scary" but her husband was recovering from the assault.

She said the group of youths had come and gone several times that day, and had been around the day before. She could not say how much stock was taken.

Mr Thompson said the shop owner had a sore shoulder but was largely unhurt.

He expected passers-by would have seen the three youths, who were sitting outside the shop for about half an hour before the theft. They fled on foot, running north-east up Rhodes Drive.

Police said it was likely that people would have noticed a boy running and struggling to put his black, long-sleeved T-shirt back on.

Mr Thompson said he expected the thieves would be tracked down.

"Dairies and takeaway stores, they're certainly not the easy target they used to be," he said. "We're constantly identifying people from their surveillance footage ... and I'm sure this is going to be the same."

Mr Thompson said it was likely that the youths were local to Kelvin Grove.

All three of them have been described as Maori or Pacific Islanders. The one who lost his hoody was 16 or 17 and about 170cm to 180cm tall. The second had longish shaggy hair, was 150cm to 160cm tall and may have been younger. The third was about 16 or 17 and 170cm to 180cm tall.

Any information can be passed on to Palmerston North police on 351 3600.

Manawatu Standard