3 May 2024

Two men arrested in bushland after burglary at Whakatāne Michael Hill

7:21 pm on 3 May 2024
Michael Hill in Whakatāne was the target of an aggravated burglary on Thursday afternoon.

Michael Hill in Whakatāne was the target of an aggravated burglary on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Supplied/Google Maps

Another two people have been arrested on Friday in relation to an aggravated burglary at a Michael Hill jewellery store in Whakatāne on Thursday afternoon.

Four people fled the scene in a vehicle yesterday following the burglary.

Police spiked the vehicle they were travelling in, which stopped on Stanley Road after a pursuit.

Two men, aged 20 and 21, were arrested at the scene, while the two other men in the vehicle, aged 21 and 22, fled on foot into steep bush.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Nicky Cooney said because of the dangerous location and concerns for the men's safety, a large-scale search was launched, involving officers, a dog unit and Search and Rescue teams.

The police Eagle helicopter which has an an infrared camera, night vision equipment and a spotlight, also flew to the search area from Auckland.

"Despite the significant search effort, the pair weren't located," Inspector Cooney said.

However, just before 8am today, when a person called police to report two men walking through a paddock off State Highway 2 in Taneatua.

"As police arrived, the men again fled on foot into bush.

"Despite them crossing a river, a police dog unit tracked their scent and led officers to where the men were hiding."

One of the men was treated at the scene for a dog bite.

Police have since charged all four men with aggravated burglary, Cooney said.

They appeared in the Whakatāne District Court this morning and were remanded in custody to reappear on 22 May.

"The public have played a significant role in this successful result, and we want to extend our appreciation to members of the community for their assistance and the information they provided," Cooney said.

She said staff at Michael Hill were being offered support.

The incident was the latest in a string of burglaries and robberies targeting the jewellery chain.

On Sunday, a group of five thieves made off with jewellery from Michael Hill in a brazen smash and grab attack at Auckland's NorthWest Shopping Centre.

In January, a young person was arrested after an armed robbery at the Michael Hill store in Silverdale Mall on the Hibiscus Coast.

Just a day before the Silverdale incident, Bayfair Shopping Centre in Tauranga had been evacuated after a robbery at the Michael Hill store there. Police said a fog cannon went off and the offenders fled the scene.

"I am also proud of the efforts of our police staff, who swiftly detained two suspects, and embarked on a search for two more people in hazardous bushland.

"We understand this was an unsettling and distressing incident, but this incident shows the lengths we will go to protect our community."

Police would still like to hear from anybody who witnessed the incident or may have video footage from the incident.

They can be contacted on 105, or online, using "Update Report".

The file number is 240502/9091.

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