Violent robbery isolated incident, police say

Police are assuring Invercargill residents they can feel safe in the city despite a violent robbery during the weekend.

A 16-year-old youth was attacked by two men on the corner of Maitland and Martin streets early on Saturday morning, after he refused to give the men his packet of cigarettes.

The youth was punched to the ground by the men, who then took the cigarettes and walked off toward Elles Rd.

Area tactical manager Inspector Olaf Jensen said the weekend's attack was an isolated incident, and not indicative of a trend toward more violence on city streets.

He believed residents should feel safe in Invercargill.

"Invercargill is generally a safe city. We certainly don't have a lot of the serious crimes [other cities do]."

However, the weekend's robbery was one of several violent attacks in the past year.

In October, 42-year-old Marty Keen was left with serious facial injuries when he was attacked by a group of teenagers in Russell Square, and, in July, a man was attacked by a stranger in the centre city while heading home from a function.

Mr Jensen maintained random attacks were not a continuing problem in the city, but warned that people needed to take care.

Residents had to make sure they were not putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations, he said.

"People, you know, have to look after their own personal safety if they're out and about at night," Mr Jensen said.

He recommended sticking with friends or a group when walking after dark, and avoiding areas or situations that felt risky or unsafe.

Meanwhile, Invercargill police were searching for two men in relation to the weekend attack, both believed to be Maori and about 1.8m tall.

One of the men had distinctive facial hair, which police described as a moustache with "handlebars", and a strip of hair along his chin that joined the handlebars.

The other man was wearing a blue hoodie and jeans.

Anyone with information on the robbery should contact Invercargill police or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Southland Times