Another aggravated robbery.

Another shop owner left traumatised, possibly injured and definitely out of pocket.

This type of offending is on the increase.

READ MORE:
New taskforces on the street as police fight aggravated robberies

Advertisement

It's happening all over the country, in dairies, petrol stations and superettes, and particularly in South Auckland.

We share the deep public concern about this offending and its impact upon victims in our vulnerable communities.

New Zealanders have had enough and are rightly asking what their police are doing about it.

To our small business owners, I say: We are there for you.

We care deeply about robbery victims.

Dedicated and resourceful police staff are working tirelessly to make you safer and help achieve justice should the worst happen.

We can't put an officer on permanent guard outside every dairy or liquor store but we are putting many extra resources on to the streets.

High-visibility patrols, in high-risk areas at high-risk times, deter offenders and improve response times if something does happen.

We have formed a special taskforce to focus on aggravated robbery, using street-level intelligence and social media as an investigative tool.

The new taskforce will be made up of more than 20 officers working across Auckland.

This taskforce is in addition to the frontline and crime team staff working within each of the three Auckland districts.

For example, in Counties Manukau, an 18 strong major crime team focus solely on robberies.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell
Police Commissioner Mike Bush. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell

And now we are turning up the heat further.

Through a new campaign in partnership with Crimestoppers, we are cracking down on people who fuel the rise of aggravated robberies by buying the stolen property from these stores.

The month long campaign - 'There's nothing good about stolen goods' - is being run in partnership with Crimestoppers and offers a reward to people who provide information that leads to a successful prosecution.

Our approach to these robberies, as with all crime, has three areas of focus - to catch offenders, prevent crime from happening in the first place, and understand what is driving the offending.

And we are catching offenders.

Since February, we have arrested more than 70 people for aggravated robberies across Auckland.

Offenders need to understand they will be held to account and put before the courts, and could face a jail sentence of up to 14 years.

Of course, it would be better if these offences had not happened in the first place.

Crime brings huge social, personal and financial trauma and it is part of our job as police to prevent it where we can.

This is why our strategy is Prevention First.

In recent weeks we have visited more than 1000 small businesses in Auckland to provide crime prevention advice and support and invite owners to find out more at crime safety seminars.

This is not a response to critical headlines but builds on several years of work with small business owners and their workers - particularly from Auckland's South and East Asian communities, who are over-represented as victims - to make their premises less attractive to criminals.

We are working hard to understand the drivers of this type of offending, and why it is on the rise. It is complex and we are working with other government agencies and NGOs on the issues.

We are also working with community groups and business associations, both to address their concerns and tap into what they can offer within their areas of influence.

We value the support we receive from family and whānau who are as appalled by this behaviour as anyone.

Sukhdeep Singh was working at a Rotorua dairy and fought off an offender during an aggravated robbery. Daily Post Photograph by Stephen Parker
Sukhdeep Singh was working at a Rotorua dairy and fought off an offender during an aggravated robbery. Daily Post Photograph by Stephen Parker

A recent story highlights this: after one high-profile robbery in South Auckland, in which a number of youths attacked a superette owner and held a knife to their throat, the mother of one of the alleged offenders brought her son to the police station.

This was clearly a tough, brave decision - but this mother was determined that he be held to account, and knew what had to be done to stop the cycle of offending.

Our work goes on.

Our staff continue to visit businesses that have not been targeted - because we want it to stay that way; to identify vulnerable locations; and work with, support and advise shop owners who have been victimised.

If you are subject to an aggravated robbery, or threat of a robbery, call 111 immediately and our staff will prioritise the call.

I ask all our communities up and down New Zealand to stand with us against violent crime and report any suspicious behaviour, no matter how insignificant it seems.

Call 111 in an emergency.

Otherwise contact your local police station - you can find numbers on the Police website police.govt.nz - or you can report via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

This is not a problem police can solve alone.

Our mission remains for New Zealand to be the safest country - and by working together in our communities we can achieve it.