Three children buying lollies when they were caught up in the armed hold-up of a Rotorua dairy on Saturday were terrified, police say.
Detective John Hope said the children, aged between six and eight, were made to sit on the floor by the robbers.
The three men, who took cash and personal jewellery from Jerams Superette on Te Ngae Street, did not aim their weapons at the children.
"(But) there was a bit of sort of anger towards the children ... 'stay quiet, stay where you are, don't move' type of thing," Mr Hope said.
"Obviously we're quite concerned at the brazen actions of these offenders, with children in the shop at the time, to be confronted by these effectively masked men, armed with weapons and very domineering actions.
"It was terrifying for them."
It was despicable the robbers showed no hesitation in committing the robbery in front of the children, Mr Hope said.
The men fled in a silver Mazda Familia, driven by a fourth man.
An Otonga Road dairy was also robbed on Sunday by a man seen fleeing in a silver Mazda Familia. Police found the Mazda, which had earlier been stolen from Auckland.
Mr Hope said it was despicable the robbers showed no hesitation in committing the robbery in front of the children.