Alarmed residents quickly called police after they saw a gun-toting woman swigging from a bottle of whisky as she strolled down a suburban New Plymouth street yesterday.
The 25-year-old was spotted heading towards town along Carrington St about 10.45am.
When she encountered police officers attending another job she tried to hide the pistol in her clothing.
Sergeant Royston Betteridge said members of the public helped police locate the woman who was arrested near the intersection of Parsons St and Glenpark Av a short time later. Mr Betteridge said the firearm turned out to be a slug gun revolver but police had to treat the incident seriously.
"It's a firearm and it will be treated as a firearm until there is no longer a threat to the public or the police," he said.
"It's a potentially dangerous situation and it will be treated at the top end."
Mr Betteridge praised the people who had quickly called police. "They did everything right by reporting it," he said.
"To look at it at first glance police totally understand the members of the public's concerns, it looked very real. It does not look like a toy."
Mr Betteridge said the woman was charged with theft of property, including the firearm and possession of a firearm in a public place.
She was released on police bail to appear in the New Plymouth District Court next week.
- Taranaki Daily News
Have you changed power companies in the last year?Related story: Savvy swappers drive power prices down