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Armed young robbers vandalise jewellery store in Hamilton Mall



Michael Hill store after the heist (Image Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, April 24, 2023

A mall in Hamilton was targeted again on Friday, 21 April 2023 by a group of young offenders, who broke into the Michael Hill Jewellery store armed with knives and hammers.

The store, located on the ground floor of Chartwell Shopping Centre was reportedly hit by people wearing masks at around 3pm, a peak time on a rainy school holiday afternoon. The mall was busier than usual, as a number of primary school aged kids enjoyed holiday workshop activities merely meters away from the location of incident and clearly in harm’s way, had things gone wrong for the robbers.

One of the teen robbers was pinned to the ground by quick-thinking mall staff as they tried to make an escape. The offender was collared by brave security guards, who held him down and locked him in until police arrived.

Once everything settled down, thousands of dollars’ worth of diamonds were strewn across the floor at the feet of a startled crowd of onlookers, many of whom were elderly and families with young children.

One of the witnesses who was at the mall with her grandchildren told Indian Newslink, “we were a couple of stores away when we heard the sound of smashing glass nearby. Suddenly, we could see people panicking and families running. The staff at other stores acted quickly and closed the doors to keep everyone safe, but there was fear and panic among the little ones who were visibly scared.”

A screenshot of the video which recorded the heist (Image Supplied)

Another witness mentioned, “I could see the raiders going crazy. They came in with hammers and knives and started taking jewellery and smashing glass displays.”

According to the witnesses, thieves were aggressive towards bystanders. “They were threatening everyone in the area to leave them alone, and were equipped with knives.”

In a video of the thieves fleeing the store circulating online, an elderly woman walking slowly with a cane can be seen only metres from the running and armed offenders while the children’s holiday workshop is also visible in the background, which had a number of children inside the canopy.

But quick thinking by security guards saw one of the thieves apprehended at the mall.

According to Mabhenu, who works at a nearby store, “The security guys jumped to action and tried to stop a couple of them swinging, trying to hurt some people who were around. A security guard threw a post used to divide queues, at one of the thieves.”

After being approached by security, one of the older members of the group returned with a knife and started wielding it towards other mall staff.

What happened next was a display unseen amongst the increasingly audacious robberies plaguing the country. One of the accused was caught on the spot, thanks to the prompt action of the security personnel.

A police spokesperson confirmed they were called at about 3.05pm after a group of offenders armed with weapons entered a store. No one was injured during the incident, police said.

Police took one person into custody and charges were being considered as they work towards locating the rest of the offenders.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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