Any law enforcement agency will warn victims and onlookers that when an armed robbery is taking place, they should not try to play super hero. Local pokies players at the Selwyn Tavern in Rotorua, New Zealand heeded no such advice, bonding together to take down a thief who was attempting to rob the bar.
According to the New Zealand Herald, pokies players did not hesitate to come to the rescue of Miriam Chapman, owner of the Selwyn Tavern on Kokako Street. Ms. Chapman told police that she was the only worker on duty shortly after noon yesterday when two men entered the establishment, one brandishing a small blade.
“They came in very fast,” Ms. Chapman said when the ordeal was finally over. “One jumped on to the bar with a craft knife.”
Rotorua Police Arrest Thief at Selwyn Tavern – Photo by Ben Fraser
She went on to explain that one of the would-be thieves made his way behind the bar and started looking for money to steal. At that point, she began shouting for the few local pokies players who were in the bar to call the police.
“There were eight or nine people playing on the pokies,” said Ms. Chapman. But not everyone pulled out their cell phones to inform the local authorities. “A couple of them got up to stop the men,” she said.
The armed burglar instantly jumped from the bar and made a run for the door, escaping the scene before he could be captured, but the other assailant who had been collecting money was tackled by the group of brave pokies players.
“They jumped on him in a kind of tug-of-war,” Ms. Chapman recounted the events of that heroic afternoon. “They kept him down until the police arrived.”
Not only were the gallant patrons successful in stopping one of the thieves, ultimately resulting in his arrest, they also ensured that the Selwyn Tavern lost no money in the robbery attempt.
As the pokies players sprang into action, the pilfered cash in the assailant’s hands went flying. “When he got tackled a lot of the money went everywhere,” said the tavern’s owner. “It was raining money,” as she described the situation.
The pokies players who weren’t directly involved in taking down the burglar rushed over to collect all of the bills that were flying about the bar. Ms. Chapman commended her loyal patrons, not just for protecting her and the establishment, but for their quick thinking to save the cash. “Because of the locals we didn’t lose anything,” she said.
Miriam Chapman said that she’s been working in bars for many years, even before taking over the Selwyn Tavern in Rotorua, NZ, but has never encountered anything like what she experienced yesterday. “I was shaken up a little,” she told the press, “but not too bad.”
Detective Sargent Tony Colby of the Rotorua police said that the man captured by the bar’s pokies players had been arrested and charged with aggravate assault and theft. As of right now, the authorities are still searching for the other man involved in the attempted robbery.