A spate of violent shop robberies in the past few months brought hundreds of people out to a march in Auckland today.
Organised by the newly formed Crime Prevention Group, founder Sunny Kaushal said up to 700 people marched down Great South Road, in Manukau, calling on authorities for better protection of shopkeepers and harsher penalties for offenders.
Among those marching were shopkeepers and business owners, many from the Indian community.
They also included victims of assault and relatives of victims, including those of a shopkeeper badly injured in an aggravated robbery at a superette in Mt Roskill last month.
That incident saw seven people, armed with a crossbar and baseball bats, entering the shop and assaulting two staff.
The same week, a police car was fired upon during a chase in South Auckland after an armed robbery; while a staffer working at a petrol station north-west of the city was threatened with a knife in another incident.
Kaushal, an Indian community leader, said the protest was about highlighting the issue with police and government leaders and getting a reaction.
"We don't want any election promises, as the current Government is telling us that they're going to spend so many million dollars and [more] police officers.
"When are these police officers going to be on duty? I was told after four years.
"We do not want to hear those things, because the problem is now. We want the actions now."
Kaushal was referring to an announcement by Prime Minister Bill English in February, where he pledged to spend up to $500 million on extra police.
Kaushal said today's march included people from different backgrounds and communities, indicating that the issue was not just something the Indian community felt was a worrying trend, he said.
No politicians had been formally invited, he said, and he praised Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa for taking part.
He said he was disappointed other MPs had not shown support, given this was something that was affecting many within the Indian and ethnic community.
The Crime Prevention Group said the ongoing violent attacks on shop owners had led them to call for a special police task force to deal with crime on businesses.
The group is also calling for tougher penalties on offenders.
"We're not saying we need to put young children into jail, but I'm talking about the current [situation],'' Kaushal said.
"These offenders, they do not have any fear of the law, any fear of the police or any consequences."