30 Oct 2022

Forced out of business as ram-raiders hit seven Waikato stores in a night

8:04 pm on 30 October 2022

By Mike Mather of Stuff

A police car

Police say they are following positive lines of inquiry into a spate of attempted and successful ram-raids in Waikato overnight. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Business owners in Hamilton and Cambridge are literally picking up the pieces following a slew of attempted and successful ram-raids on Saturday night - but for at least one, it's one raid too far.

Matt Roiall, the owner of Safari Sport in Victoria St, got the call his business had been attacked at 3am. He was still there, standing guard, at mid-morning.

Roiall said he was hoping it was the last time he would have to conduct such a vigil before he closed the business permanently.

"We won't be here next year. It's just not worth it ... It is the third time this has happened to us, and the costs are too great for us to recover from."

Roiall said while he realised the rate of ram-raids and burglaries had not increased greatly, "the government is just making it too easy for them".

"There's just not consequences for the criminals. If they get caught they don't get any kind of punishment, and they are straight out [of court] and doing it all over again."

The hit on the family-run store was one of seven such burglaries and attempted burglaries that took place in Hamilton and Cambridge.

Among the other stores targeted were Noel Leeming in Cambridge, the Varda Academy barber shop in Anglesea St, and various others in Frankton, Chartwell and at The Base shopping centre.

Roiall said one of the burglars who targeted his business was spotted on CCTV footage shortly beforehand trying to kick in the back door.

"He had headphones on and was talking into his phone. It was definitely an organised thing," he said.

"It's not just the overnight burglaries - they come into the store all the time and try to take off with things.

"It's happening all the time. It's just brazen. If we confront them we get abused.

"There's $6000 worth of damage here. It makes it impossible to be in business."

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate has previously advocated to Police Minister Chris Hipkins for more support in the fight against crime.

Her counterpart in Waipa, Susan O'Regan, said she was dismayed to hear of the latest ram-raid in Cambridge.

The town had been the victim of many such crimes in recent years and she was determined to do what she could to protect retailers there and in neighbouring Te Awamutu.

"I think it's up to the mayors of our region to lobby the government a bit harder for more policing."

The crime wave was not an easy thing to stem, however.

"The motivators and triggers for the criminals, who are mostly youths or are relatively young, are far more complex than what most people suspect ... a lot of it does feed into the economic and social well-being of our communities.

"It's something the government needs to take a good, hard look at.

Waipā mayor Susan O'Regan

Waipa Mayor Susan O'Regan says while more police are part of the solution, the causes of crime are more complex than what most people realise. Photo: Supplied

"[However] it's a given that the people of Cambridge are fed up with it."

She said while an increased police presence was part of the solution, "crime prevention through good urban design is another".

"We want to make it easier to put bollards in front of stores, however we really need to have some uniformity, rather than having them all higgledy-piggledy.

"Putting in more solid, concrete seats is another thing, but we will have to look at that longer term."

A police spokesman said they were "following positive lines of inquiry" into the overnight crime wave.

They had recovered several stolen vehicles and arrested one person.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 105, or call anonymously on the Crime Stoppers tip-off line on 0800 555 111.

*This story was originally published on Stuff.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs