Two men held up a Hawera petrol station, then were caught after running out of fuel
A Taranaki petrol station attendant will be offered counselling after being held up at work for the second time in as many months.
In an ironic twist, the people accused of robbing the Z petrol station in Hawera in the early hours of Thursday were caught by police after running out of fuel.
Two men, one brandishing a large spanner, had entered the shop, on the corner of South Road and Princes Street, at 1.30am and demanded cash and cigarettes from the attendant, Detective Sergeant Chris Allemann said.
A member of the public was also threatened when they would not hand over their cellphone.
The offenders stole money, one packet of cigarettes and a "whole lot of chocolate bars and ice creams", Alleman said.
Police spotted their getaway car driving south near Waverley at 2am but lost it when it turned down a side road.
Later, the occupants approached a farmer near Maxwell to try to buy fuel.
Two males aged 18, from Lower Hutt and Levin, and a female aged 17 from Lower Hutt, were arrested around 3.20am near Waverley in South Taranaki after running out of petrol, Allemann said.
Three people were due to appear in the New Plymouth District Court this afternoon, Thursday.
Z spokesperson Sheena Thomas said the staff member - who has not been named - had been sent home to rest, talk to people close to him and would be offered counselling.
"He's the same customer service representative who was there for the last robbery. He's pretty shaken up but he's ok. He's not physically harmed but you can imagine it's not a nice thing to go through," she said.
The robbery appeared to have been an opportunistic one, she said.
Security at the station had been increased with reinforced doors and fog cannons following a robbery last month.
In that incident, just before midnight on July 18, four male offenders forced their way in and stole cash and cigarettes after threatening the member of staff with a weapon.
The offenders jumped the counter and forced the night manager to open the tills while a member of the public locked himself in the toilet for safety.
The gang made off in a stolen car which was later found abandoned.
One man had made an initial appearance in Whanganui District Court in relation to that incident, Detective Guy Jackson of the Hawera Police said.
In this latest robbery, Thomas said the offenders got in when the attendant went back into the station after helping another customer.
"He was on the forecourt helping someone and they followed him back into the service station.
"Then they confronted him and robbed him. They got away with hardly anything.
"Ironically they have already been apprehended because they ran out of gas."
The Hawera site was not previously regarded as being in a high risk area, but recent events may have changed this, she said.
"We are already evaluating increasing the security across our sites. The main thing here is we advise our staff not to leave the station in the later hours of night for their own safety.
"His intention was good, he went to help someone. Our priority is to keep our staff as safe as possible in the site."
In the case of a robbery, staff were advised not to resist an offender.
"Our policy is always to be compliant, their safety is most important. Everything is locked down anyway, there's hardly any cash kept on the site, it's not worth it."