CCTV footage of a dairy robbery shows a female police officer with a Taser drawn letting the three young thieves pass.
A sports bag containing cigarettes was later recovered by police following the theft in central Auckland, Gray Lynn.
Police caught a 12-year-old boy driving the getaway car.
At 11:05 p.m. Sunday, police patrolling Gray Lynn broke up a robbery after noticing damage to the front door of a dairy on Williamson Ave.
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CCTV video shows the three thieves entered the dairy by smashing one of the front windows with hammers.
The thieves then entered and stole cigarettes and tobacco, targeting two cupboards behind the counter with wooden doors where the products were kept.
Hearing the police, the three people ran out of the store and into a waiting vehicle, with a 12-year-old woman taking the driver’s seat.
One of the officers was Tasered, but CCTV footage shows her not firing and letting the thieves pass.
The car was followed by a police helicopter as it left the South Freeway at Mount Wellington, before the fleeing driver lost control of the vehicle in wet conditions and crashed into a tree.
No passengers were injured and all five were taken into custody.
Police said “a large amount of stolen property” was recovered from the vehicle, including a sports bag full of cigarettes.
Three people were referred to Youth Aid following the incident.
Bhumika Patel, who co-owns the dairy with her husband, said it was lucky the theft happened at night.
She said that if the theft had taken place during the day, she or her husband would have been stuck behind the counter and could have been injured.
The thieves stole between $4,000 and $5,000 worth of cigarettes and tobacco, which police are due to return on Friday.
“Without cigarettes, there’s no business, no one will come,” Patel said.
Now she fears that a wooden plank – a temporary replacement for broken glass – could be the target of thieves.
Patel constantly checks the CCTV footage playing on her phone, even when she’s not working.
“I was like, ‘Why didn’t I watch on Sunday?’ But you can’t watch it all the time,” she said.
Patel said the thieves’ rapid movements in CCTV footage showed they had likely inspected the store beforehand.
“They know everything. When they come, they don’t even hesitate, they know where to go.
Patel and her husband are now considering getting more CCTV cameras, and the store already has bollards outside to stop raids.