A long-awaited helping hand for shop owners hit hard by ram raids has been announced this morning.
The Government has detailed support for businesses after a recent spate of burglaries involving vehicles being driven through storefronts, many involving young people.
Minister of Police Poto Williams said the support - which features $6 million from the Proceeds of Crime Fund - will see investment in a crime prevention programme to be managed by police which will include solutions such as installing bollards or other protection structures.
"We have heard the concerns of the small businesses being targeted by ram raids and other offending," Williams said.
"While there has been a significant reduction in youth offending over the past decade, there has also been a recent spike in ram raids and related offending which we urgently need to address for these business owners.
"This funding will enable Police to work closely with vulnerable small retailers to identify effective and practical solutions based on the particular features of each location.
"Police will also look at the range of crime and security risks each small retailer may face, and other options such as fog cannons, security alarms, or screens may be considered."
Police will establish and manage the programme of funding for small retailer crime prevention, with work beginning in Auckland and expanding if required.
"Alongside the obviously physical damage, ram raids can also have serious personal mental health and wellbeing impacts on business owners, their families, and staff and these measures help prevent that," Williams said.
It's likely to take a similar approach to the subsidised fog cannons rolled out to retail outlets two years ago.
It adds to the Government's investment in Police, to which Budget 22 added over $562 million over four years.
"Money and assets forfeited under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 go into the Proceeds of Crime Fund. This is exactly what the fund was designed for, to rectify the significant harm such criminal activities cause," Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said.
Minister of police Poto Williams said Police would start to work with five retailers for the fund.
She expected over 500 retailers would apply and be eligible for the package support.
The package would allow for security measures such as fog canons, security screens and alarms.
"It's important as minister of police that I ensure police have the recourses and investment they need"
She said this fund was the most effective way to respond quickly to the ram raids.
"It takes a whole society approach to address these drivers of crime," she said.
Parnell Business Association general manager Cheryl Adamson told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking that she would welcome any government initiative that tackled retail crime.
"We've been nagging for this for almost 18 months ," she said.
She hoped that the package announced would be straightforward and easy for retailers to apply to.
At the start of May during a pre-Budget announcement, Police Minister Poto Williams said the Government was considering such a package.
At the time she said there would be help for businesses to protect themselves from ram raiders – something that has become an increasing problem in recent months.
Williams said the ministers would be consulting with small businesses.
"Similar to the process that supported the installation of 1000 fog cannons in retail outlets, we will help high-risk businesses protect themselves from ram raiders," Williams said, adding that the new process won't actually involve fog cannons this time.
"Ram raids are a serious issue and we need to deal with it."
However, as it was announced outside the period in which the Budget was set, funding was yet to be allocated.
"We are working at speed to put this in place," she said at the time.
The announcement also comes as Auckland grapples with rising gang tensions and associated violence.
Auckland was rocked by five shootings on Tuesday night, including four in one hour, as several homes were hit by a spray of bullets.
This also followed a series of drive-by shootings over the weekend.
A turf war between the Killer Beez and Tribesmen motorcycle gangs has exploded, the Herald understands, but police said investigations were ongoing to determine any potential links between the incidents.
The latest shootings are understood to be directly linked to a series of tit-for-tat attacks and a feud between the two formerly allied gangs.
Williams said the firearms violence in Auckland was "deeply distressing".
Budget 2022 invested $562 million into police, including new funding for more frontline police and a new firearms unit.
That included $208m towards a Firearms Register and $94.5m for a cross-agency response to organised crime, with a focus on communities.
Williams said she did not support routine arming of police, as with previous ministers and also Commissioner Andrew Coster and his predecessor Mike Bush.
"I do not support it because it would fundamentally alter the nature of the relationship the public has with police: a service that is trusted and approachable, not a force to be feared.
"Police have access to firearms when and if they need them. As part of the routine risk assessment police undertake before attending an event they can make a call on the carriage of firearms."
Budget 2022 provided for more training, resources and intelligence capabilities through the nationwide rollout of the Tactical Response Model, she said.