Police still searching for robber

02:55, Aug 24 2014

A Christchurch dairy owner scared off a knife-wielding robber by threatening him with a can of pepper spray.

She also had a pool cue behind the door if she needed it.

Police have renewed calls for public assistance to identify the hooded perpetrator, who fled as soon as she held up the spray can, but warn dairy owners have few legal grounds to justify arming themselves.

Security footage of the June 23 incident at Avenues Dairy, on the corner of Worcester St and Fitzgerald Ave, shows the hooded man walking into the dairy and putting a can of beer on the counter.

He requests cigarettes, and the dairy owner asks for ID.

The man then pulled out a large knife, which Detective Hamish Beer said "has that cheese knife look about it".


The female staff member responded by grabbing a can and holding it up. Beer would not say what it was, but a visit to the dairy found it was a can of pepper spray.

The staff member told The Press she did not need to spray the offender that day and still had it handy, but out of customers' reach.

The dairy was robbed a month earlier, when two intruders, one holding a knife, demanded cash and cigarettes. The female staff member called out to an associate, and they fled empty-handed.

The woman is not the only city dairy owner taking matters into her own hands.

In June, a Yaldhurst dairy owner wrestled an air rifle off a robber who demanded cash and tobacco pouches. Alexander William Edward Cottrell, 17, ran off empty-handed. In October, another dairy owner fended off knife- wielding robber Carly Denise Laughton, 27, with a chair.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Warner said dairy owners could justify arming themselves only if they had recently been robbed and feared it might happen again. Otherwise, they risked prosecution for possessing a restricted or offensive weapon.

Charges for fending off a robber with a weapon would be assessed on a "case-by-case basis".

Dairy owners should consider security measures such as automatic doors and panic buttons.

Anyone with information on the June 23 Avenues Dairy robbery is asked to phone Beer on (03) 363 7400.

The Press