New hotel owners tied up, robbed

RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 15:34 31/08/2014
Alexandra Hotel robbery scene
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ

The scene of an aggravated robbery at the Alexandra Hotel in the Waikato town of Pirongia.

Alexandra Hotel robbery scene
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
A police officer at the scene of an aggravated robbery at the Alexandra Hotel, in Pirongia.
Robbery
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
PIECING IT TOGETHER: Police officers at the scene of an aggravated robbery at the Alexandra Hotel in Pirongia.

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On just their second night on the job, two young hotel owners have been tied up and stripped of their takings during an aggravated robbery in the Waikato town of Pirongia.

Early this morning, new owners Tony Penwarden and Julie Kilmister were cleaning up the Alexandra Hotel when two thieves ruined their night.

"Just after midnight the two owners were tidying up when two men entered the hotel, threatened and assaulted them, tied them up and stole a quantity of cash,'' Senior Sergeant Pete Simpson said.

Bound and shaken, one of the owners managed to phone police soon after the incident.

"The two men fled from the scene in a vehicle, leaving the victims tied up in the office,'' Simpson said.

Both victims suffered minor injuries but did not need medical treatment, Simpson said.

At the scene today, a man understood to be related to one of the victim, would not comment on the robbery to the Times but confirmed the victims were not badly injured.

''You will have to contact the owners if you want the full story. Yeah, they are OK, they're fine.''

Despite its name, the Alexandra Hotel is currently not operating as an accommodation provider.

Police could not confirm whether any other people were on the site during the robbery.

Penwarden and Kilmister had the long-established business looking pristine in preparation for its rebirth under their ownership and this morning, the only thing out visibly out of place outside the hotel was a patio heater that had been knocked over behind the building.

The couple could not be reached for comment today but O'Brien said they were being spoken to by police.

Speaking to the Times last week, Kilmaster was optimistic about the couple's first foray into hospitality.

''We just wanted to try something different because we've been in our careers for about 10 years each,'' she said.

''I'm a nurse and he's a builder. I'm still nursing two days a week. Tony's going to focus really on this hotel but still do a bit of building work.''

Police carried out a forensic examination of the scene this morning.

''We'll carry out a senior examination and determine where to from here,'' Detective Sergeant Nick O'Brien of Hamilton CIB said.

It is unclear whether the men were armed.

''I don't want to comment on what they may have had [as a weapon] at this stage.''

Police are seeking anyone who may have further information on the men or the vehicle they used to flee the scene.

The first offender is a man of medium build, and was wearing a fluoroescent pink T-shirt, a dark hoody and cap. The second offender is of medium build, and was wearing a dark jacket over a grey hoody.

''If anybody happened to see any persons or vehicles in the vicinity of the hotel, feel free to contact us,'' O'Brien said.

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Anyone with any information can phone Hamilton police on 07 858 6200.

- Waikato Times

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