By Star Weekly
By Sophie Aubrey/The Age
A heroic pokies customer has thwarted two would-be armed robbers who smashed their way into a St Albans venue carrying a machete and a metal pole.
Police are now hunting the pair and have released CCTV footage of the incident, showing the patron flooring one of the men with a right hook.
Detectives now believe the incident could be linked to as many as three separate armed robberies in the area.
According to police, two balaclava-clad men broke a window to enter the gaming venue on Clubhouse Place about 11.15pm on November 12 last year.
Once inside, the man armed with a machete allegedly became involved in a scuffle with a male patron, demanding he hand over his phone.
The CCTV footage appears to show the customer getting whacked on the chin with the weapon.
The customer then punches the man in the face, throwing him to the ground and kicking him.
The men fled shortly after, empty-handed.
The customer involved in the altercation suffered minor cuts to his head.
The footage also shows the alleged offenders threaten two other men in the venue, however nobody else was injured. Police say staff locked themselves in an office after being alerted by security.
The first man is described as being of solid build, medium height, and of Maori or Islander appearance with a New Zealand accent.
The second man is said to have a slim build, of medium height and with an Australian accent. Police were unable to provide further details of his appearance.
Detectives are now investigating whether the incident is linked to three other armed robberies that occurred over a period of four years.
One incident occurred at the same pokies venue on June 13, 2015, about 11.30pm, when a man entered the premises with a firearm and threatened staff before he was handed cash.
In a second incident on June 7 last year, a man armed with a firearm entered a Deer Park post office on Neale Road about 1.20pm and demanded money before fleeing.
A third incident occurred on November 11 about 8.50am – just one day before the St Albans incident – at another pokies venue on Gillespie Road, Kings Park. Two men armed with firearms entered the premises and stole cash.
Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said any incident where offenders were armed with firearms was cause for concern.
“It’s probably only luck up to this point that someone hasn’t been seriously injured,” he said.
“Someone in the community is likely to know who these people are and we are urging them to come forward.”
Investigators have released a digital composite image of a man they are hoping to identify in relation to the St Albans incident.
They have also released a CCTV image of a silver Holden Commodore VE sedan suspected of being used in the various incidents. It has a partial registration number of YN.
Anyone who has information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.