Armed robbers hold up The Mill Hamilton
Police have nabbed a gang of masked men who robbed a liquor store, stole donation boxes and may be linked to a dozen petrol station drive-offs during the past two months.
At noon yesterday two men walked into The Mill Liquorsave in Willoughby St in Hamilton armed with a crowbar, Senior Sergeant Stephen Ambler said.
Both had hoodies drawn and bandannas concealing their faces.
They jumped over the counter and stoleitems from the store, including the donation boxes on the counter before fleeing.
Members of the public said the getaway car was a silver Subaru Impreza and it proved to be the robbers' downfall.
Mr Ambler said it had two registration plates from different vehicles, both of which had been stolen in Dinsdale overnight.
About 1.30pm police officers spotted the Subaru in Dinsdale.
The patrol tried to pull the vehicle over, but the driver failed to stop and police lost them in Whatawhata Rd.
Mr Ambler was on the case too and found the vehicle behind the Dinsdale Tavern.
"Three offenders ran from the car," he said.
"Two were arrested inside the tavern and one was arrested after running through the tavern and out the front doors."
Mr Ambler said that inside the Subaru officers found cash, the weapon, clothing associated with the robbery and the donation boxes, as well as three other car registration plates.
The Hamilton trio, aged 20, 27 and 30, were arrested for aggravated robbery in relation to The Mill holdup, but final charges had not been decided last night. The 27-year-old was in breach of bail.
Mr Ambler said there were about 12 petrol station drive-offs associated with the Subaru during the past one to two months and police would work through those offences one by one.
The speedy arrests yesterday were down to quick work on behalf of police and a dash of luck, Mr Ambler said.
"We had units in the area looking for the guys and eventually we came upon them. All incidents of this type pose a substantial risk to members of the public and we have to take it very seriously because on another day someone could have been seriously injured."
The Mill staff were "traumatised" and victim support personnel were working with them.