Whangamata bank incident update 2

Monday 29 October 2012, 2:07PM
By New Zealand Police


While the offender at the centre of an incident at a Whangamata bank is still being interviewed this afternoon, investigators who have spoken to his victims say they now have a clearer picture of what occurred.

Detective Sergeant Martyn Hughes of the Thames-Coromandel CIB said there was four staff present at the Whangamata branch of the BNZ bank on Port Rd when a 53-year-old man armed with an axe entered the premises about 10.10am.

"Three staff were able to flee the building but one was not and remained in the store with the man who smashed a number of windows and the front counter. At this point in time we do not believe the man made any threats toward this staff member who was able to escape before the arrival of Police.

"It then appears a member of the public secured the front doors of the bank to prevent the offender escaping."

Mr Hughes said that thanks to a number of calls to the 111 phone service, Whangamata Police were quickly aware of the situation and able to respond.

"As is standard procedures for such situations, officers responding were equipped with firearms. This is to ensure the safety of not only members of the public and our staff but also the offender as well.

"While such incidents in Whangamata are rare and likely to attract widespread attention it is important to note there is no information to suggest this incident was in any way linked to a robbery and that emergency plans established for such situations worked well."