An Auckland shopkeeper shielded his wife from a brutal baseball bat attack during a robbery, which may leave his badly broken arm permanently paralysed.
Seven people entered Jitesh and Preeti Arora's Mt Roskill dairy about 7.30am on March 12 armed with a baseball bat and crowbar.
"We'd just opened our store ... just after that seven people came in very fast and hit me. They didn't ask me anything, they just hit me," Jitesh told the Herald in his first interview since the attack.
"I just protected myself and protected my wife," he said of the four minute long attack, as the group, consisting of four men and two women, ransacked the Crown Superette in Melrose Rd, targeting cigarettes and cash.
Preeti said the couple didn't have a chance to react to the group invading their store.
"We didn't have time to do anything, and then it happened all of a sudden ... the first one with a baseball bat came straight [at Jitesh] and starting hitting him.
"[An offender] was about to hit me with the bat when [Jitesh] put his hand in the way to save my life."
The pair "somehow managed to run" to the back of the store and scream for help, she said.
Neighbours came to their aid, while the attacking gang fled with their loot.
Police charged two teenage girls, aged 13 and 14, with aggravated robbery following the incident.
A police spokeswoman said no further arrests have been made and both teens remain in Child, Youth and Family care.
Jitesh was left with severe injuries to his arm and head and rushed to hospital. He has since endured four operations at North Shore Hospital, leaving him unable to use his right arm which has required more than 200 stitches.
Often in pain, he said he has not returned to his store, which has remained closed, since the attack.
"How can [I]?," he said, adding he was scared every day at home and fearful of returning.
The financial toll of the attack was also starting to weigh on him and his wife, Jitesh said, with the couple struggling to pay the store's lease and power bills.
His brother-in-law, Raj Chopra, worried the "traumatised" couple may go bankrupt or be forced to sell their business.
"His life has changed, he doesn't know if he will be able to go back to his life or not."
Jitesh said he was expecting his first payment from ACC today to help cover the loss of income from the attack, but Chopra feared it would not be enough to keep the business afloat.
The aggravated robbery was also the most prominent incident in a string of attacks on shopkeepers, which led to the formation of a community action group.
"This is a very serious state of affairs," community leader Sunny Kaushal said. He was also concerned Jitesh hadn't received any counselling.
Kaushal, the founder of Stop Crime NZ, helped launch a petition to be submitted to Parliament calling for tougher penalties and a review of current police strategies.
A Givealittle page has also been established for Jatish and Preeti.
Yesterday, Retail NZ also proposed establishing a national retail crime task force within police.