A Far North petrol station has become one of the latest businesses targeted in a ram-raid, following a spate of similar crimes around the country in recent weeks.
Taipa's Z Energy service station on State Highway 10 was burgled early yesterday morning, with its front door and front-facing windows smashed by thieves.
A police spokesperson confirmed police were investigating a burglary at a business address on SH10, Taipa on Wednesday morning.
According to police a group of seven youth offenders broke into the building using a vehicle. The incident was reported about 1.10am.
"A fog cannon was activated as a prevention measure, which saw the group leave the area in three stolen vehicles," the spokesperson said.
"However, the group returned shortly after and have unlawfully taken a number of items from the premises.
"One vehicle was located nearby in relation to the incident and police are making inquiries, including reviewing available CCTV footage."
Z Energy external communications and government relations manager Haley Mortimer confirmed the company was aware of the incident and that it was the second of its kind since March.
Mortimer said thankfully no staff were onsite when the crime occurred as it was outside staffed hours.
She estimated damage would likely equate to tens of thousands of dollars and would take several months to fully remediate.
"We are aiming to have the site fully operational by later today [Wednesday] once the police have completed their onsite investigation work and the damaged materials can be removed," Mortimer said.
"As a nationwide retailer of a network of Z service stations, unfortunately, there is always a level of theft at our sites.
"Our Z service stations and the equipment within them are deliberately designed to protect both our site staff and customers, with all our sites equipped with CCTV and security monitoring that allows us to capture all incidents of theft, which are then logged with police."
Mortimer said Z retailers also frequently conducted robbery preparedness and response exercises and conducted formal assurance checks, as well as consistent promotion of robbery risk awareness within their teams.
The ram raid follows a series of similar crimes in recent weeks around New Zealand, which according to a New Zealand Herald report on Sunday, found at least 45 children or teenagers allegedly behind eight crimes such as break-ins and ram raids reported during the school holidays.
Twenty-three people were either facing charges in the District Court or Youth Court or had been referred to Youth Aid - with the other half still on the run.
Auckland University School of Nursing Associate Professor Dr Terryann Clark specialises in youth mental health and wellbeing and as co-lead principal investigator for Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey, has worked closely with Northland youth to understand their experiences as young people in the region.
Clark, who grew up in Moerewa, said a range of factors were likely contributing to the recent spike in youth crime, but that overall, it was a wake-up call to society that something was deeply wrong.
"I see these acts as acts of desperation from young people who are feeling like their future isn't very bright and the perfect storm with young people feeling unloved and unsupported about their future opportunities," Clark said.
"It's so much harder for young people these days to get access to safe, warm and affordable housing, as well as food, education and employment opportunities than it was for previous generations.
"The impact of Covid-19 has also taken its toll, with young people spending longer than normal time outside of school and who haven't had access to normal social activities like sport or kapa haka, etc.
"To be honest, I think they're probably also just a bit bored as they've not had the usual things available to them to keep them entertained."
Clark said she didn't condone the behaviour, however she believed increased media attention, as well as calls for stronger punitive measures, were not helpful.
She also believed blaming the young people themselves or social media as the cause was misguided and did not really address the core issue.
"People want to blame this on young people or social media, but the fact is most people who see this online will not go out and do ram raids, so it's important to understand the context in which people are living and the situations that influence their behaviour," Clark said.
"The way media reports on these things and how 'terrible' young people are also plays a role in building a negative perception of young people and ultimately leads to more of this type of thing occurring.
"We need to get back to the basic things like making sure young people are housed, are engaged in schooling and social activities, have equal opportunities to get an education, to be entrepreneurial, to make money and to expect a brighter future for themselves.
"Everyone wants that, but in reality, it's much more difficult to have a dream as a teenager in today's world."
Last week the Children's Commissioner called on the Government to step in following the increase in crime during the school holidays.
"It needs to happen now because these young ones, I'm sure they're hurting inside," Judge Frances Eivers told NZME on Sunday.
"They're just babies, they're just young kids."
Eivers said whānau struggling with the cost of living, the impact of Covid-19 and rangatahi (youth) not being at school, or kids being at a loose end could be behind the crime wave.
The Government is set to soon announce a package to tackle stubbornly high truancy levels, with more than 40 per cent of students now not going to school regularly - an increase of 10 percentage points since 2015, with huge disparities for Māori and Pacific children and lower-income households.
Eivers said these children deserved the opportunity to thrive, rather than be put on a path to prison.
She said the Government needed to direct community leaders to work together with the likes of iwi, police, and Oranga Tamariki social workers to find a solution.
And affected communities needed to ask how these young people ended up in such a position, Eivers said.
Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers said the reasons young people were involved in these types of crimes were complex.
Chambers said police recognised the distress and frustration these crimes were placing on business owners in the community.
Anyone with information regarding the Taipā Z petrol station incident is asked to contact police on 105, quoting job number P050453416.
Information can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.