The humble corner store is becoming a high-risk zone.
As reported last week, shopowners are increasingly at risk of becoming the victims of robberies.
They're caught, it seems, between desperate addicts seeking a quick score, and a rapid rise in the cost of cigarettes which, in turn, has made them a tantalising target for criminals.
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On Saturday, we reported that New Zealand Police crime data showed the number of aggravated robberies committed in the Western Bay policing area climbed from 47 in July 2014 to 101 in 2017.
Police have been called to 28 aggravated robberies in the Western Bay already this year.
Although there was an expected lag of 180 days after a crime for a resolution to be defined, each year police made arrests for about half of aggravated robberies reported.
Police say drug addicts desperate to feed their addictions are behind the increase in robberies while shop owners say the increasing value of cigarettes is to blame. Most likely it is a combination of the two.
The ever increasing tax on tobacco products has no doubt increased the demand for cigarettes on the black market. Those seeking a quick fix know there is a ready demand for these products and the opportunity to make some quick cash.
Shop workers like Mohammad Zaber are on the receiving end. Running a store is scary, he says, "because you never know who is coming through the door". That, it seems, is increasingly the case.
Like many retailers, Zaber accepts cigarettes and tobacco are often the targets of robberies. They are now faced with the tough choice about whether or not they should continue stocking the products.
Customers might expect to be able to buy cigarettes, but a shop owner should not have to put their own wellbeing at risk to supply them.
If they do, then every step, in my view, should be taken to protect staff, whether it be security cameras; metal rollers in front of the counter; locked doors or installing solid metal cigarette vending machines.