Another armed robbery has struck a Waikato business in the latest in a string of similar holdups across the region.
On Saturday morning two people held up the sole attendant at the Queen St Mobil petrol station in Thames, shortly after opening.
Senior Sergeant Graham Shields, of Thames Police, said a man and a woman robbed the store at gunpoint and fled with a small amount of cash and about 20 packets of cigarettes.
The robbers were in and out within a minute, he said, and if caught they could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
Shields would not divulge the weapon used or give descriptions of the offenders, but said their trail was followed a short distance from the scene before it disappeared.
They're appealing for anyone who saw suspicious behaviour about 6.30am around KFC and Pak 'n Save to contact police.
The manager of the Mobil petrol station in Thames, who wanted to remain anonymous, was reluctant to talk about the robbery because he feared it could inspire copycats.
"I'm very hopeful that they'll get caught. They need to be caught. It's not acceptable is it?"
Shields said he was not ruling out a link with a similar robbery in Paeroa on Saturday May 3.
In that case a masked and armed robber told a petrol station attendant he had one minute to fill a bag with cigarettes before he started shooting, according to the station's owner.
Again two robbers, one armed with a long-barrelled firearm, targeted a lone attendant.
They entered the Paeroa Caltex service station about 10pm and fled with $375 cash and $1280 of cigarettes.
The case remains unsolved.
Caltex office manager Paul Milner, 32, said all leads "have been followed up at this stage and nothing came of it.
"As there have been other similar things it's going to be compared with other cases and I think they have a task force working on that," Milner said.
The development comes after an armed robbery at the Still Working Bar in Chartwell on Sunday, May 18. Two offenders armed with a shotgun confronted a staff member as he walked to his car after locking up for the night, and forced him to return to the bar and open its safe.
Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Patterson, of the Hamilton CIB, said the victim had a sum of money taken off him before he was forced to open the store's safe where the thieves took more money.
The offenders both wore gloves and hooded sweatshirts with the hoods over their heads. Fabric covered their faces.
The robbery was very similar to a holdup at nearby Chartwell Burger King in 2012 that also remains unsolved.
In another similar robbery, on Saturday, April 12, three men burst into the betting lounge in the Workingmen's Club on King St, about 9.50pm armed with a rifle and a knife.
- Waikato Times