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29 Apr 2024

45 seconds of terror: $1m worth of gems, gold stolen in brazen jewel store raid

4:49 pm on 29 April 2024

By David Williams of NZ Herald

Six masked thieves - one armed with a machete - targeted Manurewa jewellery store Glitter Jewellers, taking a $1 million worth of jewels and gold and terrifying staff and customers.

Security footage of the brazen heist shows the group of masked robbers bursting into the South Auckland store wielding weapons on Anzac Day just before closing time.

Four shocked and scared staff members quickly sought refuge at the back of the store, while five customers fled in terror with two leaping over the counter and another ducking underneath the cabinets.

A couple can be seen hugging each other while mayhem unfolded before managing to escape past the robbers out the shop's front door.

In a heartstopping 45 seconds, the group smash every cabinet with their weapons, emptying trays of jewels and gold bangles into their bags, while a pair sweep gems from the shop's shelves.

The robbers leave the store carrying trays of gems and full bags when the smoke cannon ignites 16 seconds into the heist.

The owner's son Nitpreet Shee said the robbers were able to kick their way through the two sets of locked security doors and into the store.

"They tried to push it open at first, but it wouldn't budge. We thought it was a customer," he said.

"We have to lock the doors from the inside and the doors don't open."

Shee said his father approached the window to see what was happening.

"By the time my dad realised what had happened, they had managed to force their way through the front door."

Shee believed the robbers may have had a plan to steal the store's expensive 20-carat gold pieces.

"They managed to target directly all of the heavy stuff - the bangles, the men's bangles and the men's thick chains," he said.

"Everyone we have discussed it with said it wasn't by chance. They walked directly there."

Crime is a concern in Manurewa.

Machete and hammer wielding assailants stole thousands of dollars worth of jewellery during a smash and grab at a Manurewa jewellery store. Photo: RNZ / Blessen Tom

He said the whole experience has been traumatic for their family.

"I dropped a calculator the other day and my parents were in shock.

"The place that we used to love being here has become the scariest place in our life."

Shee said his family has been in the jewellery business for two decades and the South Auckland store had been open since 2011.

"This has never happened to us before."

He said one of the customers who escaped while the robbery was happening had a panic attack down the street.

"We have spoken to her and she is okay."

But, he said the family is considering closing the store and moving to Australia.

"There is no point being in a country where we have spent 20 years but now we feel so unsafe," he said.

A police spokesperson said they are investigating an aggravated robbery at an address in Manurewa on Thursday evening.

"Police responded to reports of the incident at an address on Great South Road around 5.35pm.

"Enquiries into the circumstances of the incident remain ongoing, which include determining what was taken and who is responsible.

"We ask anyone who may have footage to assist with our investigation to please contact Police directly."

This smash-and-grab was another in a spate of recent attacks hitting jewellery stores across the country.

Five armed robbers wearing masks and clad "head to toe" in black stormed a Michael Hill Jeweller store in a West Auckland mall yesterday afternoon and used hammers to smash glass cabinets before making off with the loot.

It follows a similar attack which occurred just 10 days ago when four armed thieves targeted the Michael Hill Jeweller store at Dress Smart Onehunga.

Partridge Jewellers, Newmarket, Auckland.

Partridge Jewellers in Westfield Newmarket has been hit twice in a spate of recent attacks hitting jewellery stores across the country. Photo: Google Maps

A Partridge Jewellers in Westfield Newmarket was targeted twice in nine days.

The first incident at Partridge saw staff flee to a locked backroom as thieves ransacked the shop.

Staff were closing the store about 8.55pm when a stolen Toyota Aqua reversed into the shop.

A group of six then began smashing cabinets with hammers and tyre irons and stealing expensive pieces. Baldwin said the group made off with a "large quantity" of jewellery.

While the second incident saw a person enter the store at 7.30pm and steal several items before leaving the scene in a vehicle that had several other occupants.

* This article was originally published by the New Zealand Herald.

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