"I can be killed in 10 minutes."

A Whanganui dairy worker is calling for quicker police response times and other measures to staunch the violence and robbery of dairies in New Zealand.

Mandeep Singh, who works at Springvale Dairy, said there should be "some kind of phone app which brings police on patrol" to disturbances at dairies much quicker.

He also wants the Government to stop putting up the price of cigarettes, and for dairy owners and workers to have more rights to defend themselves.

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Mr Singh was commenting to the Chronicle following the armed robbery of the Fitzherbert Avenue Dairy in Springvale on Sunday night.

He said his Parsons Street dairy had CCTV and a direct connection to the police, but it would take police at least 10 minutes to get there.

"I can be killed in 10 minutes."

The spate of armed robberies could also be reduced by making cigarettes less valuable, he said.

"They are putting the price up to stop people getting cancer and dying, but what about our lives?

"It's about the smokes - they need to stop increasing the price."

He said it was essential for many dairies to sell cigarettes.

"If we stopped selling smokes it would be hard to survive. Most of the diaries would shut in a short time."

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More support was needed for dairy owners and workers should be armed.

"We should be able to defend ourselves. At the moment the robbers know we can't ... we are not allowed weapons.

"And if we do defend ourselves and something happens, are we going to be charged?"

Eastside Dairy owner Peter Clarke said thought the Springvale robbery was not part of a pattern, with most of the incidents in South Auckland.

A former police officer, he said Sunday's robbery was the first in Whanganui for some time.

Dairies with just one person working, in isolated sports and next to quick getaway routes were more likely to be robbed.

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"We always have three people in the shop at night. It's also in a well-lit area with a number of other businesses and is not isolated."

His dairy has a very loud buzzer to ward off people, direct connection to police and CCTV.

Mr Clarke said it wasn't time for his store to put cigarettes behind vending machines, as has been suggested, but he believes some service stations in Whanganui will be doing that soon.

His Jones Street dairy has not been robbed in the 21 years he's owned it but it had been burgled. To stop that he had put a roller door at the front and the shop was fully alarmed.
He said cigarettes were a substantial proportion of sales but there was not a big mark up on them.

Eastside Dairy owner Peter Clarke says there's always three people in his shop at night. Photo/Bevan Conley.
Eastside Dairy owner Peter Clarke says there's always three people in his shop at night. Photo/Bevan Conley.

Police advise prevention rather than taking up weapons

The Chronicle asked police about the issues raised, and if it was legal for dairy owners to keep a weapon, such as a baseball bat, under the counter.

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A spokesperson said whether it was lawful for dairy owners or staff to have and use a weapon "will depend on the circumstances".

"Police is not in a position to provide legal advice, however, the most applicable offence is set out in section 202A of the Crimes Act 1961."

The section deals with possessing an offensive weapon and having a "reasonable excuse" to have a weapon in a public place.

The police spokesperson said dairy owners should "back away" and separate themselves from the offender. Personal safety was imperative.

Dairy owners needed to be aware of the risks when defending themselves in potentially violent situations.

"Confronting such situations can escalate very quickly and could lead to serious injury or even death.

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"Police are encouraging store owners to take preventative measures, such as installing good quality CCTV systems and panic alarms, and keeping tobacco and cigarettes out of sight."