Store owner describes how she defied would-be robber

Determined . . . Clinton Food For Thought dairy owner Jo›anne Thom› son stands outside her State Highway 1 store, following an attempted rob› bery on Tuesday last week. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

A Clinton dairy owner has described the moment she faced down a would›be robber last week.
Food for Thought owner› operator Joanne Thomson said it was just a regular busy day in her cafe›dairy on State Highway 1 on Tuesday last week when, about 4.30pm, she heard the door buzzer go off signalling a customer.
‘‘I popped out from the kitchen and one of my ladies came round the counter to join me and handed me a bag, saying, ‘He wants smokes and money’.’’
She looked up to see a ‘‘solid man of average height’’ coming round the counter towards them.
Mrs Thomson said she was puzzled as to what was happening until she noticed he was wielding a tyre iron and wearing a hoodie and scarf, obscuring his face.
‘‘You never know how you’ll react until it actually happens, I suppose, but I became quite determined not to give him anything.’’
The would›be robber stood over her. All she could see were his eyes.
‘‘He seemed quite calm at this stage, and just kept repeating, ‘Smokes and money, smokes and money’.’’
When she stood her ground, the man became threatening.
‘‘He smashed the pie warmer with his tyre iron, and had a go at the till, too, but I wasn’t going to give him anything.
‘‘I was thinking ‘bugger off, I’ve worked too hard for you to come and steal it.’’’
While the incident was unfolding, other customers had come into the dairy, and then left to alert the police.
Thwarted by Mrs Thomson’s determination, the man ran from the store and made for his car.
He was seen leaving by a customer, who noted the vehicle’s details.
Police apprehended a 20›year› old Dunedin man shortly afterwards. He appeared in the Dunedin District Court last week charged with aggravated robbery.
Mrs Thomson said she was not sure if she would act with such courage again.
It was the first such incident in her six years’ running the dairy.
‘‘I always tell staff, if it ever happens, just give them what they want . . . To be honest, I just hope there never is another time.’’
She had been heartened by the dozens of messages of support since the incident — ‘‘the way it all worked out just shows what a great wee community this is’’.