SEPTEMBER 24, 2013 2:38PM
MOVIEGOERS were lucky to escape unhurt after three men and a teenage girl armed with guns and a machete stormed the foyer of a Sydney cinema in a “brazen and shocking” robbery, police say.
The incident at the suburban Roseville Cinemas on Monday night put the lives of families and children at risk, north shore Detective Inspector Carole Dowsen told reporters.
“It was a very brazen attack, something that we actually think is shocking,” Det Insp Dowsen said.
“They’re going to a movie cinema, it’s early and there could be children around, and they’ve got a shotgun.
“It’s extremely lucky that nobody was hurt.”
NSW opposition police spokesman Nathan Rees said it reflected a sad state of affairs in Sydney.
“Nobody expects to be threatened with a machete or a shotgun as they go to the cinema,” he said.
The robbers took cash from the cinema – which was screening Blue Jasmine, the newly-released Woody Allen movie starring Cate Blanchett – and demanded people near the counter hand over their wallets.
“They threatened them, saying ‘we’ll shoot you if you don’t give us your money’,” Det Insp Dowsen said.
They then fled in a car allegedly carjacked from an 87-year-old Lane Cove man half an hour before and held up a pub in Revesby, in Sydney’s west, where they stole cigarettes and cash.
Det Insp Dowsen said they may have carried out the second robbery because they didn’t get away with enough takings from the cinema.
“I would suggest the car jacking and the movie theatre was planned,” she said.
“It may have been an opportunistic crime for the second robbery, as an afterthought, because they didn’t get as much money.”
It’s believed the alleged robbers were three men aged between 19 and 20, and a teenage girl.
The stolen car was later found burnt out in Westmead.
Paul Gertler was at the cinema with his wife when the armed robbers entered.
“We were definitely shook up by it, for sure,” he told Fairfax.
“It was just one of the last things you expect to happen.”
Investigators say while the robbery may have been a “clumsy” or opportunistic crime, the group’s possession of a sawn-off shot gun was worrying.
“I’m sure that they will try something else again,” Det Insp Dowsen said.