A government subsidy will enable dairy owners around the country to thwart would-be burglars with a blast of all-encompassing fog.

If judged by police to be a business at high risk of a crime, the business owner can apply to have a fog cannon installed for only $250 - with the Government picking up the rest of the $4000 tab.

The cannon blasts out smoke to create an effective no-go area for offenders, rendering them unable to see anything inside the shop and unable to find high-value items.

It also allows employees to retreat to a safe place and lessens the risk of being a target of wanton violence.

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The previous Government put aside $1.8 million for the scheme - which also included options for an audible alarm or a DNA spray - but the proposed 50/50 cost split only saw a single business take it up.

In December, the Government boosted the subsidy to reduce the cost to retailers to $250. Since then, 17 more businesses have fog cannons in place, while eight more are awaiting installation.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the previous 50/50 split was too expensive for most small businesses.

"The original scheme was well-intentioned but imposed too many barriers on those businesses who needed it most.

"Many of these businesses, such as dairies and superettes, have only very small profit margins and were facing a potential bill of several thousand dollars for these crime-prevention tools.

"A fog cannon can cost around $4000, while a DNA spray system can be more than $3000 and an audible alarm can be around $1700."

The $250 cost will only be available for the fog cannon, and Nash encouraged business owners to contact police for advice on how to apply.

Eligibility depends on police assessment of risk, taking into account such factors as history of aggravated robberies, burglaries and thefts, as well as calls to police for issues including graffiti or suspicious activity.

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Nash said he expected about 400 premises to qualify country-wide, but mainly in wider Auckland.