Gun in face 'really frightening'

ELLE HUNT AND TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2012
Otaki bank robber
NZ POLICE

A CCTV still of the alleged robber.

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An armed man disguised his identity with a cartoonish blue mask to rob an Otaki bank yesterday, but escaped empty-handed.

Five staff and two customers were in the ANZ bank in Main St when the man entered about 9.30am, carrying a firearm.

He shot at a security door, trying to get access to where bank tellers worked and, when that failed, escaped through the front door of the building.

No-one in the bank was injured, but Detective Senior Sergeant Marc Hercock said staff members were shaken.

The bank was closed for the day but, when a regular customer arrived wanting $25 in cash, a member of staff standing outside the building handed over money from their own pocket.

"That's the sort of staff we have," ANZ retail managing director Kerri Thompson said. "The frontline staff followed all their training, which is fantastic.

"Having a firearm in your face is really frightening, but the team felt they were able to keep themselves and their customers safe, so we're very proud of them.

"We're now making sure that they're OK."

A counsellor met staff and the two customers afterwards, and Ms Thompson said staff members would be offered ongoing counselling.

The would-be robber was last seen heading south on foot through the car park at the rear of the building. Police are now appealing to the public for details of his identity.

He was wearing a blue mask with white teeth on it, which covered his entire face, and orange rubber gloves.

He was solidly built, and wearing a black jacket with stripes above and below the elbows, a high-visibility vest, and black pants.

It was not clear what kind of firearm he was carrying.

Other retailers along Main St said they had seen or heard little of the incident until police arrived.

"I feel sorry for the poor girls working there," a staff member at Ballentynes Fashion Central said.

"Gosh, that must have been a heck of a shock."

The bank is expected to reopen about noon today.

Police are asking members of the public to call 04 381 2000 or 111 with any relevant information.

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- The Dominion Post

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