It’s a great length to go to for a packet of cigarettes – wandering around with a machete and threatening to rob a convenience store.
Yet this was the extremity that one man went to as he decided he needed to have his daily fix.
The incident took place in Hobart when the machete-wielding man entered a small takeaway shop dressed in dark clothing and a balaclava.
According to reports, once inside the Hawthorn Drive store in Kingston, he allegedly yelled, “I’m robbing the shop, give me the money”, then hit the counter with his weapon and caused the security alarm to go off.
Daisy Huang, who runs the store with her husband, was left petrified and quickly ran out of the store while the burglar made his way behind the counter.
At this point, between dropping his bag and hitting his head on a cupboard door, the man began fiercely filling his pants with cigarettes.
Shop Owner Sneaks Back Inside to Lock Door
Amid the urgency to steal the cigarettes and quickly abscond the scene, what the robber wasn’t expecting was to find himself locked in the store.
Indeed, sensing a moment in which the man was distracted, Ms Huang’s husband quietly stepped back into the store and grabbed the keys.
He then quickly locked the door, trapping the cigarette thief inside.
“He was focusing on grabbing the ciggies and tobaccos, and he didn’t notice my husband come back and grab the key from inside,” Ms Huang said.
“We locked that door.”
Nevertheless, it didn’t take long for the robber to notice the door had been locked.
He proceeded to smack the glass with his machete, at times even kicking it, until finally smashing a hole big enough to escape.
“He noticed that we locked him in and he just smashed the window and ran away finally,” Ms Huang said.
“I was totally black in my mind, in my brain.”
In the aftermath of the incident, Tasmania Police detective inspector Michael Smith said the armed robber is believed to have taken up to 20 ounces of tobacco from the store.
He did not, however, steal any money.
Meanwhile, it is estimated the damage the man caused is about $1,000.
The man has since been spotted by a witness near a store in Moonah, Hobart’s north, while the investigation continues.
“We’re seeking information from the members of the public who may have seen this person around the Moonah area or around the Kingston area,” Detective Smith said.
Put simply, the offence of armed robbery refers to stealing something from somebody while being armed with a weapon.
It is similar to the crime of robbery, although more serious, and resultingly carries more substantial penalties.
In NSW, section 97 of the Crimes Act 1900 outlines that there is a maximum penalty 20 years in jail if you are found guilty of an armed robbery offence.
Specifically, section 97 states that if you are armed with an offensive weapon, or instrument, or are in company with another person, and you rob, or assault with intent to rob, any person, or stop any mail, or vehicle, railway train, or person conveying a mail, with intent to rob, or search the same, then you are guilty of an offence.
The penalties for armed robbery will, however, be determined depending on the circumstances involved in the crime.
In particular, an aggravated offence of armed robbery – where you carry out the aforementioned offence with a dangerous weapon – can result in a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in jail.
Defences to the charge of armed robbery include maintaining your innocence if you did not carry out the act, maintaining you did not intend to steal the item, maintaining that you were not in possession of a weapon.
Self-defence or necessity are also defences to the charge of armed robbery.
By Sahar Adatia.