27 Apr 2022

Retailers say tough action needed to stem rising number of ram raiders

5:36 pm on 27 April 2022

Fifteen to 20 ram raids are being reported each week across the country by members of the Dairy and Business Owners Group.

A shop's damaged store front afer it was rammed.

A shop's damaged store front afer it was rammed. Photo: Katie Todd

The apparent surge in violent shop crime has seen retailers resorting to private security and self-defence lessons, and they fear authorities won't crack down until someone is killed.

Last night saw at least three more stores targeted in Auckland - in Titirangi and Mairangi Bay, after three cars hurtled into Ormiston Town Centre the night before, and a group of men used a weapon to smash their way inside WestCity Mall.

Dairy and Business Owners Group chair Sunny Kaushal felt there was a sense of "lawlessness" gripping the country.

He said the 15 to 20 ram raids each week was a marked increase on previous years.

"Two years ago the ram raids were lesser in numbers. The modus operandi during that time was assaults and aggravated robberies. This is the new-found modus operandi of these offenders," he said.

"Young offenders are involved in these crimes and they're taking it as fun."

Kaushal said dairy owners shouldn't have to fork out for private security or self-defence lessons, as some are doing.

"We need our crimes to be taken seriously. Our blood is on the hands of politicians. My very real concern is that sooner or later somebody will be killed," he said.

Those words were echoed in Kawerau by Malcolm Campbell, whose butchery was rammed and then set on fire in October.

He is also the district's mayor.

Ormiston Town Centre mall ram raid - Noel Leeming store. Auckland.

The inside of the Noel Leeming store in the Ormiston Town Centre mall after it was ram raided. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

"The sad part about it? Somebody's gonna get hurt. That's when I guess the powers that be will actually get off their chuffs and do something," he said.

Malcolm Campbell

Kawerau business owner and mayor Malcolm Campbell is among those annoyed by lax laws. Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

Campbell said the district had seen a 12-month spate of ram raids, and he was frustrated with seemingly lax laws.

"These people have got to be brought to justice. A slap on the back of the wrist with a wet bus ticket is not the answer. It's no good telling us that jail is not the answer. Well, what is the answer then?" he said.

"Some of these politicians need to have it happen to them and they might change their ways."

To catch the offenders, the owner of the Wellington Street Superette in Freeman's Bay, Seyeda Dadabhai, said she would like the police to look at where the stolen goods are going.

She said her 33-year streak without a ram raid ended in February, when a car reversed into the store, waking her up on the building's second floor.

"All our friends, people that we know, that have dairies - they've all been ram raided," she said.

"It makes you angry 'cause you work hard, seven days [a week] and people do this."

The offenders fled with cigarettes, they are yet to be caught, and the store remains boarded up.

"The worst thing is ... somebody is buying these things. There's a black market for these items," she said.

Kaushal wanted lawmakers and authorities to "show some steel".

He said until then, offenders will keep making a mockery of them.

Police have not been able to provide RNZ with their own data on the number of ram raids.

Young offenders large part of the issue

Detective Inspector Karen Bright told media on Wednesday afternoon that police were aware in the spike of ram raids, but said they were not a new issue.

"It's not an issue just in Auckland ... it's all across New Zealand."

Police were concerned and Bright said the offenders were often very young - some as young as 11.

There was a "huge risk" that someone could be killed in a ram raid, Bright said.

"One of our worries is that there is a tragedy waiting to happen. We are taken this matter seriously and we are investigating all offences."

Social media was a motivator of some offending, she said.

"We have reached out to social media companies as that is a motivator of this offending. We know that young people are posting their exploits on social media and that's driving some of the offending and that's something we are currently engaged with social media companies to try and deal with."

Social media platforms were being cooperative and responsive, Bright said.

The issue was one for the wider community, not just police, she said.

"We need the support of partner agencies, parents need to know where their children and take responsibility for them...

"We are trying to work with other agencies, the community and whoever we can to try and stop this offending. Our biggest worry, aside from the harm it is having on retail, is the effects this could have on these really young children, and we want to avoid a tragedy.

"The actual items stolen are often far outweighed by the damage done to the businesses by what is actually happening.

"This is a bigger issue than just for police to deal with. We need everyone help get these young people back on track."

Bright said a lot of the young people involved in the ram raids were identified.

"But as I said, they are 11- to 14-year-olds and that's a really different age group to work with than an adult offender, so we have to look at different ways of dealing with these young people."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs