Armed fugitive steals car

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 25/08/2014

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An armed and "panicked" man on the run crept into Kihikihi family's home and threatened them with a firearm before stealing their car, sparking a police manhunt.

Moments earlier, the man had faced off with a police officer who was forced to back away while staring down a barrel or a firearm.

The incident began about 9am yesterday with reports of a burglary of a Whitmore St house, Detective Senior Sergeant Daryl Smith of the Waikato CIB said.

"Officers from the nearby Te Awamutu Police Station attended what at first appeared to be a routine job."

Smith said the pair chased the suspected robber on foot until the man, brandishing a firearm, suddenly confronted one of the officers, who backed away to wait for assistance while the offender escaped through.

"The offender has fled across nearby Whitmore St, run through a property, scaled a fence and come to a Hall St property where he entered the home and confronted the occupants, taking the keys to one of their cars."

The car's owner was in his room when the man confronted his mother, who was cooking breakfast. The man's two nephews, aged 8 and 12, were in the lounge while his father and sister were upstairs.

"He said, I've got a gun. Where's the keys [to the car]," the car's owner, who asked not to be named, said. "Once he got the keys he was gone. I didn't want to argue with him."

The car's owner said a suspicious cannister was also found between neighbouring fences and the bomb squad was called in as a precaution.

The stolen car, a silver 2003 Honda Accord station wagon, registration number GJE327, has a white sticker on its rear window with the words "TRAINSTATION" on it.

Finding the vehicle is crucial, police say, and they urge anyone who sees it not to approach it or its occupants, but to call 111.

Smith said if people were not comfortable speaking to police directly, information could be left anonymously with the independent Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Meanwhile, police investigating a serious and sexually motivated assault on the Waikato University grounds have released an image of a person of interest in the hope the public recognise him.

A 20-year-old was indecently assaulted near the Maths and Sciences faculty about 8.30am on Saturday, Detective Sergeant Nicola Cornes of the Adult Sexual Assault Team said.

The 20-year-old resisted the man's advances before he punched and dragged her into a secluded area where the assault continued, Cornes said.

The offender fled after the woman fought back and screamed.

"The offender is described as a dark-skinned male aged in his 20s about 160 - 170cm tall of medium build with shoulder-length black hair off his face."

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Cornes said the offender's clothing was described as being dark trousers and shoes and a white sweat top, with two distinctive black lines down the full length of the sleeves.

Anyone with information on yesterday's incident is asked to contact Cornes at the Hamilton Central Police Station, 07 858 6200 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- Waikato Times

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