3 Aug 2022

Ram-raid victims say they're still waiting for promised government help

5:49 pm on 3 August 2022

Another ram raid in Auckland - this time five youths, the youngest just 12, has seen a car plough into the Royal Oak Liquor Centre about 3am this morning.

The Royal Oak Liquor Centre in Auckland was damaged by ram-raiders late last night.

The owner of Royal Oak Liquor Centre said the ram raid last night was the third incident in recent months. Photo: RNZ / Mohammad Alafeshat

Police caught three suspects at the scene and two more nearby.

Back in May, then-Minister of Police Poto Williams announced a $6 million crime prevention fund to help small business owners hit by ram raiders.

But many beleaguered businesses said they have not heard a thing about what is next, and only five so far in Auckland have had any funding to beef up their security.

Frustrated and broke, businesses are calling for clarity around the crime prevention fund.

The owner of Royal Oak Liquor Centre said they had just fixed a door last week.

"This is the third incident in recent months. They don't worry about getting caught and maybe that's why they keep doing these things."

Police said five suspects have been referred to youth aid on charges of burglary and the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.

Across the country - but mainly in Waikato and Auckland - ram raid after ram raid costs victims a small fortune in repairs, increasing insurance premiums and lost business.

TJ Handcrafted Jewellers is one of those hit. It is still closed a month after a daylight theft in which two men used hammers to smash display counters and grab jewellery.

Owner TJ Haddadin said he hoped to install new glass this weekend, and he was fed up.

"I've had four robberies in the past year, three of them were successful. So my total robberies were in excess of half a million dollars.

"The government is not addressing the real issue."

He said he had heard very little about the funding, and the recent robberies could change how high-value items were displayed at his shop.

Takanini Town Centre has had 12 ram raid incidents in the past year alone.

Landlord Bruce Wallace said the crime prevention fund was a drop in the bucket.

"I think the $6 million fund really is just a political announcement. It wouldn't address the problem.

"Takanini Town Centre alone would need a sixth of that funding for added security measures to decrease the risk of ram raids."

Minister of Police Chris Hipkins said five shops had funding for security provided and police were working towards funding another 15-20 shops in the next 10 weeks.

Stores themselves cannot apply for the fund. Instead, police select shops and contact them.

Hipkins said for each assessment the police offered advice on shop layout. Eventually, an estimated 500 retailers were expected to qualify for the fund.

The programme is in a trial phase and police would not reveal what the next stage was.

Data released to RNZ under the Official Information Act shows in the 12 months to July the police recorded 436 ram raids. That figure was more than double the 12 months before it.

Indian community leader Sunny Kaushal believed youth offenders needed to be disciplined.

"This is extremely difficult for dairy and business owners to access funding. There's no awareness and we do not know the criteria.

"The police have not informed us despite asking them for a long time. That's why I'm saying this is an example of policy by press release and it's getting frustrating."

Kaushal said there was a need for a single service where government agencies worked together to help affected businesses access funding.

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