They aren’t old enough to drink, drive or smoke, but police say three boys – aged 13, 14 and 14 – armed themselves with knives and held up a Berkeley service station early on Friday morning.
The masked trio entered the Metro servo on Winnima Way in the dead of night, just before 1am, allegedly threatening the male employee working behind the counter.
Police further allege one of the boys struck the employee with the butt of a knife, before all three fled with cash and cigarettes.
CCTV cameras captured the hold-up, which left staff at the popular servo shaken.
Service station attendant Koushik Ramineni was manning the counter on Friday afternoon, after being called in to cover for a female colleague too scared to work.
Mr Ramineni said the male attendant threatened during the early-morning raid was “pretty scared” during the ordeal, but was otherwise OK.
“He just opened the door, they came in and they were standing in front of here [the counter] and they were showing the knives,” he said.
“They came in [behind the counter], they first gathered the smokes and they took the money from here [the till].
“They were long knives [and] there could be danger for him, so he didn’t want to risk his life.”
Mr Ramineni said the main doors to the service station building were locked and a night counter window operational when the incident unfolded.
“He thought they were the customer [and] he opened the door,” he said.
“Unfortunately they were not the customer.”
A police investigation led officers to a home on Northcliffe Drive where all three boys were arrested and charged with robbery armed with an offensive weapon.
The boys fronted a children’s court on Friday where they were all refused bail to reappear on August 29.
Lake Illawarra duty officer Acting Inspector Jack Brown said the robbery was of concern to police, particularly “when there is a level of violence involved”.
“While there were no serious injuries to the victim, attempting to rob someone at knifepoint is of great concern,” Inspector Brown said.