A woman was held at gunpoint last night after three intruders forced their way into her house, police say.
The woman, in her early 20s, was struck in the face after answering her front door about 6.30pm.
Police were called to the McDougalls Rd farm property near the small mid-Canterbury town of Hinds about an hour later when the woman was able to leave the house to get help.
Detective Sergeant Jennifer Hooke said the woman was home alone when the intruders knocked on her door.
"They asked for a person who they believed resided at the address, but the young woman could not help with this person's whereabouts," Hooke said.
"One of the men held the woman at gunpoint while the other two ransacked her address.
"When they didn't find the person they were looking for, the group left in a vehicle that had been left idling outside the address - possibly indicating there may have been a fourth person involved."
The woman had minor injuries and did not require medical attention. She was being supported by friends.
Ashburton police were conducting a forensic examination this afternoon, but the results will not be known immediately.
They asked anyone with information to call (03) 307 8405 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
One of the men is described as European, aged about 28 to 30, with short shaved hair, of stocky build and unshaven.
The second man was described as European, also about 28 to 30, with sandy brown hair styled in spikes, possibly with a thin moustache. He had a protruding light brown mole on his lower left cheek, close to the jaw line.
The third man was described as Maori, aged about 28 to 30, with straight black hair below his ears, and a one-centimetre beard coming to a point at the chin, but no moustache. He was wearing a black T-shirt with "50 cent" and the image of a chain in faded gold lettering.
No description of the vehicle was available.
- © Fairfax NZ News