Men lured to house by armed robbers

Police are appealing for sightings of a one-shoed man who ran across State Highway 2 near Woodville waving at cars while being chased by a gun-wielding robber.

Two Palmerston North car wreckers carrying $1800 cash were the target of a holdup at an abandoned house on the outskirts of Woodville this week.

The men went to the house after answering a classified advertisement in the Manawatu Standard and were under the impression they were looking at two Toyota Hilux utes, unwarranted and in a rundown, rusty condition, for scrap parts.

Detective Sergeant Shane Brown, of Tararua CIB, said the men were blindsided by three male attackers who held them at gunpoint and demanded money.

Another male remained in a getaway car circling the area near the intersection of Condoit Rd and SH2, near the Papatawa Bridge, between 2pm and 3.15pm on Thursday.

Mr Brown said the getaway vehicle - "a sporty looking two-door car" similar to an early 1990s model of a white Toyota Trueno or Celica - appeared to have been driven from the scene of the attack, on SH2 towards Dannevirke, then turned around and came back. It may have done this a few times or have sat idling on the side of the road waiting to be called back, Mr Brown said.

"Someone may have seen it indicating, going slowly or mucking around on the road. Especially as it was Anzac Day, a public holiday, and the roads were busy."

Police are also appealing for sightings of one of the victims, a 182cm-tall white man in his late 20s, wearing a black top and black pants but missing one of his boots, running across SH2 waving at passing cars.

One of the attackers, described as a "solidly built male in his early 20s, possibly Maori", stood on the opposite side of the road holding a gun, while the victim hid in a bush in a nearby paddock and phoned for help.

The incident sparked an armed offenders squad callout and the victim's mate escaped in a car, unharmed and with cash in hand.

Police have "firmed up" several sus pects based between Pahiatua, Woodville and Dannevirke in southern Tararua.

The abandoned house was probably chosen as the meeting point because it was empty, away from the attackers' own addresses but yet a familiar spot for the suspects, police said.

There had been no similar incidents reported to police in the central district area previously, so the targeted attack should cause no concern for nearby residents, Mr Brown said.

"It seems the brains trust running this was only going for the money.

"They've come up with an idea for maybe $2000 and they now could be facing two or three years, maybe more, in jail."

The maximum penalty for assault with intent to rob was 14 years' jail, Mr Brown said.

Manawatu Standard