Robber kidnaps woman
A THIEF armed with a sharpened stake terrorised a 61-year-old woman before kidnapping her in a pre-dawn robbery at a popular Byron Bay Cafe yesterday.
Police said the widow was working alone at the cafe at Clarks Beach about 4am, preparing for the day's trade, when she stepped out the door and was set upon by the thief who abused, kidnapped and forced her to help him.
Byron Beach Cafe owner Ben Kirkwood said it was a distressing incident but hoped that CCTV cameras on the premises would help police find the attacker.
"The police were doing investigations and looking at the CCTV this morning," he said yesterday.
"I believe they've got some good images."
Mr Kirkwood said the technician helping police examine the video could not watch it because it was too distressing.
"Evidently a guy jumped her when she went outside the door and dragged her in and abused her and was being threatening," said Mr Kirkwood.
"He was threatening her with a stake, a sharp piece of wood I believe, and he had a screwdriver to try and get into the cash register.
"At one stage he had her by the throat and was making a lot of obscene comments to her and threatening her family.
"He tried to get money out of the register and couldn't find anything and took some grog and food.
"He then made the woman drive him to Pacific Vista Drive. He jumped out and ran down a beach track through the bush with his stash.
"Then she drove to her son's house who lives in town. He called me and then he drove her to the police station. She wasn't injured."
Police called for public help finding the attacker.
"It's alleged that the man stole a number of items from the premises before forcing the woman to assist him with loading the items into her four-wheel-drive," a spokesperson said.
"The man allegedly drove the woman to a remote location in Byron Bay and forced her to help him unload the items. The woman was then allowed to drive from the scene."
The man was described as being of white or European appearance, slim, around 175cm tall and aged in his late 20s or early 30s. He was wearing dark clothing and a ski mask.
Police said they were not aware of any links between this and another break and enter on Fletcher Street about 3.30am, half-an-hour before the dramatic theft and kidnapping.
Nicole Sharratt, who owns the Sweet Papillon jewellery store, said a thief stole a very small amount of cash and her camera after breaking in through the back door.
"The people that robbed here were not very smart," she said. "They smashed the window at the front to get out when they could have walked out the door."
Police said inquiries into both incidents were continuing, and anyone with information or who noticed anyone behaving suspiciously, particularly in the Clarks Beach area on Tuesday night, to call Byron Bay police on 6685 9499 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.