17 Mar 2017

Dairy robbers 'have no fear of police'

10:45 am on 17 March 2017

An Auckland community is uniting and calling for tougher penalties after a dairy owner and his wife were beaten by a gang of robbers, leaving them unable to work.

Three dairies in the city were robbed within three days last week - including the Crown Superette in Mt Roskill.

Seven people entered the dairy at about 7am on Sunday morning, making off with the till and trays of cigarettes.

'Solidarity Stand' founder Sunny Kaushal

'Solidarity Stand' co-founder Sunny Kaushal at the Auckland store where two workers were assaulted on the weekend. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Raj Chopra owned the dairy for 15 years, before selling it to his sister, Preeti Arora, and brother-in-law, Jitesh Arora.

He said the offenders hit Mr Arora over the head numerous times without saying a word, and pushed Mrs Arora to the ground before kicking her.

"They are still in the hospital. Jitesh has had two operations and needs a third, the muscle in his arm is completely dead, he can't move it.

"Preeti is having nightmares that the people are coming back from her. It's not good enough, why do they have to go through this?"

The blood of the victims was still all over the floor yesterday, alongside strewn chocolate bars and cigarettes.

"More needs to be done to deter this type of crime," said Mr Chopra. "The law is too soft, because they are young, they will go to court and be walking the streets again within a week.

"They can take whatever they want, take the money, take the cigarettes, but don't harm people. Now they can't work - how are they going to pay their rent?"

Raj Chopra set up the dairy which is now owned by his sister and brother in law.

Raj Chopra set up the dairy which is now owned by his sister and brother in law. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Police said a 13-year-old and 14-year-old girl have been arrested in relation to the attack, and they were working to locate others involved.

"I know you can't have four million police for a four million population, but that's why the law has to be strict, the punishment has to be strict. That is my concern," Mr Chopra said.

Mr Chopra and fellow community member Sunny Kaushal have now set up 'Solidarity Stand' - a community group pushing for change.

They wanted tougher penalties for youth offenders and more police resources in the area to deter crime.

Mr Kaushal said people did not feel safe in their businesses or in their homes.

"The offenders have no fear of police, no fear of the law or any of the consequences, so the law and order situation is out of control."

Mr Kaushal said the dairy owners faced not being able to work for six months because of their injuries - costing the government money through ACC and lost taxes.

"We want to ask the government what price they put on a life, how many people need to be killed? Enough is enough."

Auckland City Western area commander Inspector Jacqui Whittaker said police had met with the group to assure them police were always available.

She said police had visited local businesses over the past year and offered them prevention advice, working with them to increase security measures around their stores.

Associate justice minister Mark Mitchell was not available to talk about youth crime penalties.

Solidarity Stand will hold their first community meeting next week, but the doors at Crown Superette will remain closed until then.

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