And, according to Police Commissioner Maara Tetava, that is probably what kept her from being hurt in the incident in Titikaveka just before 8.30pm.
Tetava says the alleged offender went into the store and demanded money from the shop assistant. She responded by handing over the cash.
He says the alleged offender then ran from the scene heading towards Titikaveka.
The police response was swift, the commissioner says, with officers arriving a few minutes later.
“They gathered information from the shop assistant and shop owner.
“This was a very serious crime committed in the Cook Islands.”
Tetava says he, two inspectors and detectives went back to work to assist with the investigation.
“The identity of the alleged offender was very quickly established - with the assistance of witnesses - and he was later arrested at his place of residence in Vaka Puaikura and charged.”
The offender was identified as a 22-year-old unemployed male, who was refused bail.
He was expected to appear in court today charged with robbery. The commissioner says there is the possibility of further charges in the future.
Tetava says he is concerned at the nature of this crime, “as it is a crime that is unusual and, thankfully, does not occur regularly”.
The commissioner acknowledged the courage of the young shop assistant and her common-sense approach of complying with the demands of the alleged offender.
“Her actions were commendable and, in obeying the offender’s demands, potentially saved herself from serious injury.
“The swift arrest of the alleged offender was a result of good community policing, aided with the excellent support of members of the community.
“This incident is a prime example of the community helping resolve a crime very quickly and, for that, I am extremely grateful.
“The assistance we were provided with was outstanding. We would like to publicly thank those among us who are law abiding and willing to assist, for without your support our roles would be very difficult.”
Cook Islands Police are continuing their enquiries and are still seeking to identify any other witnesses.
They ask anyone in the vicinity of Akapuao or Titikaveka between 6pm and 9pm on Monday who has information that may assist them to ring 22-499, or come into the National Police Headquarters and speak to the Crime Team.
- Richard Moore/CIPS