A crackdown is coming on violent dairy robberies that the Police Minister says are being committed by people who are "young, desperate, on drugs or undertaking these robberies to finance their drug habit".
After a spate of violent dairy robberies across the country this week, Stuart Nash has promised that the Labour and NZ First Coalition Government is taking the crime "very seriously".
This week a Hamilton dairy owner lost an eye after a group of armed robbers attacked him in his shop and a Papakura Dairy owner was bashed in the face and ribs by a robber. His wife was punched in the face and his daughter suffered a broken jaw.
"These are terrible burglaries. These are young people coming in with baseballs bats, smashing up shops, threatening shop owners and their families and stealing," Nash said.
Nash said the former National Government dropped the ball last year when it implemented a $1.8 million security fund for crime-hit dairies and believes the cause of these crimes needs to be addressed
"We have to have police officers working in the community in a really proactive way with these people to stop them going down that route towards crime.
"Often the offenders we are talking about are young, desperate, on drugs or undertaking these robberies to finance their drug habit, so whilst police need to be at the forefront, we also need to look at mental health and rehabilitation services," he said.
The $1.8m package from National was meant to identify and help dairy owners that were at risk.
"The police approached 118 stores and not one of them has taken up the option," Nash said.
He believed the main reason why the programme failed was because dairy owners couldn't afford to implement the planned changes.
"What they did was say 'this is what you have got to do; you have to have safety rooms, fog cannons, and prepare for WWIII' but none of these 118 shops took up the option because they had to pay for 50 per cent of the implementation and they all said 'we don't have the money to do this'.
"There have only been two stores who have implemented these mechanisms and that was only because the police said they would pay for 100 per cent of installation costs."
National Party Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop said the fund was set up after "extensive consultation" with dairy owners.
"We are supportive of anything that will strengthen this and give comfort to these dairy owners who should be able to go about their day without fear."
Nash said the Safer Dairies fund is still available and will be used after consultation between police and dairy owners.
"We also still have that $1.8m sitting there so what I am doing at the moment is working with officials and these shop owners to see what would actually be a really good use of this money and what will work in terms of deterring burglars."
Nash said police officials are working on a list of solutions which he hopes will come to fruition in the next couple of weeks ahead of the holiday season when young people are away from school.
"We need to make decisions really quickly on this as we are heading into the holiday season which means there will be a whole cohort of young people who aren't in the school system.
"We want to remove any sort of temptation and make sure these dairy owners are as safe as they possibly can be."
Nash said the solution is not to "arrest our way out of this problem".
"All the research shows that penalties are not a deterrent because people who are committing the crimes don't think they are going to be caught."
The addition of 1800 more police officers into communities will also help combat the problem, he said.