How do you celebrate a sizable pokies win at the local pub? Maybe you would buy a round of drinks for the bar, go on a little shopping spree or take your significant other out for a fancy dinner? Apparently one man’s idea of celebrating is to leave the premises, change clothes, and return to rob the place by jumping the counter and stealing the till.
Police say winning a few c-notes at the Rimutaka Tavern in Upper Hutt wasn’t enough to satiate the financial thirst of one suspect, who allegedly robbed the pub a short time later. Apparently it wasn’t his intention to strike it rich on the pokies at all. That was merely a ploy to inconspicuously waste time as he cased the local tavern Monday morning.
CCTV security footage showed the man enter the Rimutaka Tavern on Fergusson Dr about 10:30am, donning dark sunglasses, a black sleeveless shirt with red/white print, cammo-green shorts, black sneakers and black baseball cap turned backwards.
The pub’s Rochelle Manion was tending bar at the time, and took note of the man. She said that she observed him playing the pokies for several hours, telling authorities that he had won approximately $200 over that period of time before he exited the establishment.
But according to police and CCTV footage, he didn’t leave the premises at all. Instead, he went to his vehicle – report to be a silver station wagon parked outside – and attempted to change his appearance.
Local authorities allege that he draped a red hoodie over his shirt, removing his cap and shoes before re-entering the pub. He then went back into the otherwise empty game room and waited for Ms. Manion to go around the corner to the garden bar area, where the majority of the patrons were, to make his move.
At 1.05pm, the security cameras showed the thief jump over the bar, rip out the till – reportedly containing about $1,000 in cash – and then run out the door.
Manion said the staff didn’t even realize the robbery had taken place until returning to the till to fulfill an order. The police were immediately notified, and the CCTV footage observed.
After witnessing the surveillance video, Ms. Manion had not trouble identifying the robber as the same man who’d spent hours playing the pokies that morning. However, she was shocked by how quickly the incident unfolded.
“When I saw him jump over the bar just after I’d left it was quite a spooky feeling,” she said. “I could have come back around and bumped straight into him.”
She also believes the fact that he removed his shoes proves premeditation behind the crime. “He was definitely thinking about it hard, sitting there all morning and watching my every move,” said Manion.
“Then he got changed, but we’ve already got him” on video, she said. “It’s very strange.”
Authorities are looking for information from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the Fergusson Dr area around 1.00pm on Monday, March 21, 2016.