updated 12/18/2005 1:04:42 PM ET 2005-12-18T18:04:42

A group of 40 people dressed in Santa Claus costumes, many of them drunk, rampaged through New Zealand’s largest city, robbing stores and assaulting security guards, police said Sunday.

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The rampage, dubbed “Santarchy” by local newspapers, began early Saturday afternoon when the men, wearing ill-fitting Santa costumes, threw beer bottles and urinated on cars from an Auckland overpass, said Auckland Central Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty.

She said the men then rushed through a central city park, overturning garbage containers, throwing bottles at passing cars and spraying graffiti on buildings.

One man climbed the mooring line of a cruise ship before being ordered down by the captain. Other Santas, objecting when the man was arrested, attacked security staff, Hegarty said.

The remaining Santas entered a downtown convenience store and carried off beer and soft drinks.

“They came in, said ’Merry Christmas’ and then helped themselves,” store owner Changa Manakynda said.

Alex Dyer, a spokesman for the group, said Santarchy was a worldwide movement designed to protest the commercialization of Christmas.

Three people were arrested and charged with drunkenness and disorderly behavior.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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