POLICE were still searching for three men who held up and threatened a female service station employee with an axe and a metal pole at Tenterfield on Wednesday.
Police were called to the 24-hour BP service station on the New England Highway just before 5am on Wednesday after a report that three men entered the store and stole cash, cigarettes and other goods.
The female attendant, in her 30s, was alone in the store at the time and store owner Ian Dray, who was woken by the frightened employee just after the robbery, said it was the second time his store had been hit in nine months.
Last March, the store was robbed by three men with weapons, who also made off with cash and cigarettes.
“Last time it was machetes, this time it was axes,” Mr Dray said. “She knew they were robbers as soon as they came in, they were covered head to toe and she was very upset afterwards.”
Mr Dray said the thieves damaged the cash register and stole thousands of dollars of cigarettes, as well as a few hundred dollars cash, before fleeing.
A fourth offender is believed to have waited in the car outside, a green Holden Commodore earlier reported stolen from Casino, and bearing NSW registration plates CIV 8IG.
Forensic services, as well as police from Armidale, Inverell and Tenterfield attended.
Inspector Ann Joy from the New England command said police would like to hear from anyone with information, particularly anyone who might know where the car is now.
“Investigations into the robbery are ongoing. Police are currently reviewing CCTV footage retrieved from the service station,” Inspector Joy said.
“Police are asking for the public’s assistance in helping solving this crime.”
Investigators would also like to speak to four men of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander appearance about the incident.
Two are in their early 20s, about 170cm tall and of medium build. One was wearing a black/grey jumper, black pants, black shoes, white gloves and carrying a metre-long metal pick-up claw.
Another was wearing a grey jumper with black sleeves and white letters on the left side of the jumper, black shorts with a white stripe on the left leg, and black shoes with white socks.
A third man was about the same age, about 180cm tall, and of thin build, wearing a black “Lonsdale” hooded jumper, black long pants, white sneakers, and orange and purple gloves.
Anyone with any information can contact the New England Local Area Command (6771 0503), Tenterfield police (6736 1144) or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.