When Jaswinda Singh's Thames store was ram-raided recently, it was the fourth time in just over four months, and it has taken its toll on him.
Singh's Four Square on Pollen St, the Coromandel Peninsula town's main road, was hit in the early hours of Anzac Day — security camera footage showing this time there was one person in a car, one inside and three standing out front. A vehicle smashed through the storefront that had just been repaired and bulldozed a counter and freezer.
"You can see from the security footage," Jaswinda says. "They know they can walk away easy. If they can drive, they can do these things. They should be responsible for the damage."
It was the fourth hit since just before Christmas. The store was targeted on December 18, then December 30, January 8 and Anzac Day.
Everything is being repaired through insurance but insurance premiums rise, there are delays, stock losses, staff jitters and for Jaswinda, the dread as he goes to bed at night.
"It definitely affects your life, I have no social life," Jaswinda says. Is he sleeping? "Not really."
Known and adored by local elderly customers for whom he takes orders and delivers goods, Jaswinda often goes the extra mile for his community.
Like him, longtime residents are confused and angry that ram raids are happening all over town.
Boarded up shops, signs that read "Yes, we are open", and makeshift barriers installed on the footpath by store owners themselves are not signs of a renovation.
Businesses smashed in recent ram raids include Jaswinda's Four Square, the Spark store, Stirling Sports, Noel Leeming and Gull — all on Thames' main street.
Locals keep visiting, buying goods to keep the plywood front shop doors open, sharing their worries and suggestions with staff.
One elderly resident, who asked not to be named, said: "Thames has a very high percentage of elderly residents and people with high needs such as poor sight, hearing or a disability, and safety should be the number one priority.
"Jaswinda is the heart of our community ... People need to realise also that it's impacting them as it's going to put up the insurance premiums."
The raids are so frequent that Jaswinda can't find tradesmen to keep up with repairs.
Down the road at a boarded-up Stirling Sports, that's a concern for owners too. Between $13,000 and $15,000 new stock, delivered the just day before the ram raid, was stolen.
Two weeks ago Maree and Andrew Trow were woken at 3.45am on Thursday by security calls alerting to them multiple alarms at their Stirling Sports store in the township.
It was the second hit on their store in two years - there had also been another attempt.
"I knew they had gained access because of the multiple activations so I threw on some clothes and headed there," Marie Trow told the Herald.
As Trow stood talking with police they got a call to say the Spark store down the road had also been hit.
CCTV footage at Stirling Sports showed four or five offenders wearing gloves and with their hoods up ransacking the store of men's clothing and caps.
"They took a substantial amount of clothing and were out in three minutes," Trow said.
"We have been through this a few times now - they are getting glorified. It ****s me off no end."
The couple were "toughened" to the break-ins but Trow said that was wearing thin and wanted action at a governmental level.
Police saw a noticeable increase in burglaries, ram raids and robberies across the district a year ago and reported this through the Hauraki-Coromandel Post.
"Most of them are happening at night. If you happen to be a shift worker or are out and about at night keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious and call police 111 immediately if you see anything dodgy or unusual," Waihī police said.
"Police can't be everywhere all the time. We need your help to protect the community and catch the criminals causing harm."
The ram raids are not only in Thames. They are also in Coromandel Town, Whitianga and Waitakaruru.
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson said he had talked to many victims of ram raids in his electorate, in Thames, Waitakaruru and Whitianga.
"It's just heartbreaking," he said. "Talking to owners and staff, it's not just the physical damage and costs but the impact on their emotional wellbeing.
"Someone had dropped a lovely bunch of flowers and someone else delivered some chocolates, many came in to make a purchase. It's how our community responds and that's terrific but it doesn't take away the blatant behaviour ... and what they're doing to innocent people ...
"These businesses need to know they have the support of our community, council and Government, which has up until recently denied there's anything going on. Questions need to be asked about parental control and responsibility.
"When 12- and 13-year-olds are doing ram raids at 3am, parents have got some serious questions to answer. In the likely event they are caught, there will be almost no actions on their criminal behaviour, which sends the wrong message to others."
He believed closed groups on social media were acting as avenues to "egg each other on".
WHO TO CALL
Report crime online at 105.police.govt.nz - If it's already happened call 105. If it's happening now call 111. For traffic matters call *555 (mobile phone only). To remain anonymous call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111. Paeroa, Waihī and Whangamatā police station public counters are open business hours and police are working in the area 24/7.