Alex Hills shop owner Dan Rigney talks about his flamethrower escape from an armed robbery

Thankful: Owner of the IGA X-press in Alexandra Hills Dan Rigney is grateful for the community support he has received since an armed robbery at the store on Saturday. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

Thankful: Owner of the IGA X-press in Alexandra Hills Dan Rigney is grateful for the community support he has received since an armed robbery at the store on Saturday. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

OWNER of the Alexandra Hills IGA X-press Dan Rigney has expressed appreciation to his customers and the Alexandra Hills community after an armed robbery at the store on Saturday morning.

Mr Rigney used a homemade flamethrower to try and scare away the robbers.

He said he was behind the counter at the front of the store when he saw two men wearing balaclavas enter through the door.

One was carrying a gun.

“I hate to admit it but I took a can of fly spray and a lighter and tried to scare them off,” Mr Rigney said.

The men backed away in reaction to the flames.

Then one took another gun out of his bag and handed it to his accomplice.

“They had two rifles and I realised that if they were not going to run then, they weren’t going anywhere,” Mr Rigney said.

He said the men seemed to be startled, which gave him the opportunity to escape by jumping over the counter and heading out through the front door. He screamed at customers who were driving into the shops to leave to avoid them being caught up in the robbery.

The robbers ran out of the store with a small amount of cash and fled in a car that had been parked behind the building.

Mr Rigney said he was relieved that he had been working, and not one of his staff members.

“I am jittery now and I worry about the effect of this on the staff.”

He said the store was community-oriented and customers were supportive of him and other staff members.

Mr Rigney said he had realised the robbery was about to occur when he saw the balaclavas, and went into “self-protection mode”.

Six years ago, he chased away an armed robber from a Mount Gravatt store that he owned.

“I was cutting a pumpkin and the knife I had was bigger than his,” Mr Rigney said.

He said he realised after the robbery on Saturday that what he had done was “a bit silly”, but it was out of self-preservation.

“I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but it was just to scare them off,” he said, adding that the store never had much cash on hand.

“As I am sure is the case with many shops now, 70 per cent of the transactions here are card-based and many of those are people wanting cash-out,” he said.

Police said the offenders may be linked to those responsible for a series of burglaries over the past month.

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