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2 Apr 2024

Auckland store owner stabbed, looted and robbed 19 times. Then it became the new normal

9:14 am on 2 April 2024

By Shilpy Arora of Stuff

Ravinder Singh runs liquor store Counties Liquor Inn, vape shop Kwik Vape and dairy Kwik Mart in Pukekohe, Auckland.

Ravinder Singh runs liquor store Counties Liquor Inn, vape shop Kwik Vape and dairy Kwik Mart in Pukekohe, Auckland. Photo: STUFF / CHRIS MCKEEN

An Auckland liquor store owner describes his "terror and distress" after being stabbed once and robbed multiple times.

Ravinder Singh, who owns Counties Liquor Inn, Kwik Vape and Kwik Mart in Pukekohe, said multiple attacks means he's constantly worried about the safety of his staff and family.

Just last month, a customer walked into the store demanding cash in exchange for a debit card transaction. When denied, the customer told the store owner he would "come back with a shotgun."

"Right now as we are talking, he can walk in any time with a shotgun," Singh said during an interview with Stuff at his liquor store.

Singh, who moved to New Zealand from India 15 years ago, said crime had become the new normal for him.

"It feels wrong to say that we are use to such incidents, but the truth is we are.

"The first two times, it really had an impact emotionally on me. Now we know it's part of the business. It doesn't impact as deep as it used to."

Singh has lost count of the times his staff members were threatened and his store robbed by armed offenders.

"I got stabbed once, looted at gunpoint and robbed many times. I think, at least 19 times in five-six years.

"We know someone can come in any time, snatch a bottle, push us back and run away. Sometimes we don't even make calls to police," he said.

"But the ones [offenders] who come with weapons scare me for the safety of my staff and my family.

"These are second-generation ram raiders. They observe all the movements in the store - what time staff come in, what kind of bumper they need, where are cameras, everything."

Father of two young daughters, Singh said he decided to keep the violent incidents secret from his children.

"When I was stabbed, they hugged me tight and said 'Papa, don't go to the shop."

"I don't want my kids to feel scared all the time. Whatever happens here stays with me because I don't want any negativity going to my family.

"I have to make sure kids feel good living in this country so I just can't tell them what's happening here [at the store]."

The liquor store's equipped with 16 CCTV cameras, security alarms, bollards, fog canons, and automatic doors with an override button.

Singh spent at least $50,000 in five years for making security arrangements, paying insurance access and the premium that went up over the years due to a rise in crime.

Singh said his wife sometimes managed the liquor store.

"We come from Sikh community and we are not scared of anyone. But I am worried about my staff ... and when my wife is at store."

Most staff members including the liquor store manager witnessed robberies and were threatened with weapons multiple times in the store.

Singh had to moved his residence from Manukau to Pukekohe as thefts and raids never stopped.

"Every time something happens, I would get calls from alarm companies and had to drive all the way ... so I moved close to the store to make my life easier because I don't think these incidents would stop."

Singh, however, said he never thought of closing down his business.

"Pukekohe community is great. The community brought me cemented blocks last time it [a ram raid] happened. Within 10 minutes, the community was here looking after me.

"We are just serving the community, paying our mortgages and paying rent. We are not doing anything wrong. I don't see any reason to close down my business.

"Those people can't make me close the shop. If I ever close down my business, it will be my decision."

Some of the offenders police found and some they couldn't, said Singh.

"Most offenders [charged by the police] have cases of trespassing against them. Some were found to be struggling with mental health issues.

"I think police are doing a good job, but are we fixing up the problem? Are we educating these young offenders and the community?

"I think it has a lot to do with good parenting of these young people and that's being ignored."

This article was originally published by Stuff.

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