The man who tied up a woman and held her at gunpoint at a lost dogs home in Melbourne's outer south-east seemed to believe animals were being killed at the shelter.
The animal transport worker, aged in her 20s, parked her vehicle in the carpark of The Lost Dogs animal shelter on Thompsons Road, Cranbourne West, when she was confronted by an armed gunman wearing military-style clothes about 10.20pm.
Detective Senior Sergeant Glen Cruse from the Casey Crime Investigation Unit said the woman winded down the window of her vehicle after noticing the man dressed in camouflage gear, who she believed may have been a police officer at the time.
The man then pointed an assault rifle at the frightened worker, before leading her inside and demanding to know where the cats were stored.
"He asked her to get out of the car, hand over her mobile phones which she complied with," he said.
"He made demands of her and threats, and escorted her inside the premises where he tied her hands behind her back.
"After a short time, he left the room, she didn't see him again and she was able to free herself and notify the police."
Detective Senior Sergeant Cruse said the man spoke about animal cruelty to the woman, but his motivation for the crime was still under investigation.
"We are looking into a range of potential motivations," he said.
"He didn't take anything or leave with any animals.
"He doesn't like that animals are killed, seemed to have the belief that animals are potentially treated in a cruel way and potentially killed at the premises."
The worker, who wasn't physically injured, was able to free herself by maneuvering her hands out of the fastened cable ties.
The man left the room minutes after the encounter and remains on the run.
Detective Senior Sergeant Cruse said the incident had been "very traumatising" for the woman.
"I guess the circumstances are a little bizarre, but really concerning that someone has confronted someone like that in the middle of the night, dressed the way he was, armed with a firearm," he said.
"We are really keen to get to the bottom of it and charge the person responsible."
A statement from the Lost Dogs Home said the alarming incident had shocked the shelter.
"The Lost Dogs Home is shocked and extremely concerned at an incident that occurred at our Cranbourne shelter overnight," the statement read.
"The Home has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence against our staff in any shape or form.
"Our main priority is the welfare of our staff and we are providing all the support possible to the animal transport team member who was a victim in this horrendous ordeal.
"The Lost Dogs Home is working with Victoria Police on this matter."
No animals were harmed during the incident.
Local police and specialist support units including the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), Air Wing and the Dog Squad attended and cordoned off the area.
Police conducted a search of the property but were unable to find the man.
The man has been described as in his 50s, caucasian in appearance, over six feet tall, with a solid build.
He wore camouflage tactical clothing and a tan-coloured helmet with a printed face mask.
Casey Crime Investigation Unit detectives are investigating the incident and are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/woman-held-at-gunpoint-cranbourne-west-lost-dogs-home/322b76cb-4c93-47fa-850c-2cd39eba5007