A besieged group of dairy owners want solutions to the increasingly violent attacks on shopkeepers before somebody is killed.
In two attacks in Hamilton in as many days one dairy owner was set upon with a machete and another with a hammer as robbers tried to steal tobacco products.
A group of 100 dairy, liquor and service station owners in the city say they have had enough and will meet on Sunday to discuss their options.
SuperValue owner Manish Thakkar, who called the meeting, said his two family businesses - the mini supermarket and a dairy - had been robbed up to seven times and he wanted urgent action to address the escalating crime.
"It is frightening. Even with both of us in the shop still it is scary because we can't do nothing to the thieves.
"We surrender ourselves. We ask them to get what they want but still they hurt us badly."
Thakkar said he had never been injured but one friend had lost an eye and another one walked with a severe limp after he was bashed with a hockey stick at his business.
"It's been happening for years and years now but it's been getting worse for the past three or four years."
On Tuesday Emm Jay Dairy owner Sandip Patel had his head slashed with a machete in a daylight robbery of the Hamilton East dairy.
And today the owner of the Hillcrest Minimart was brutally beaten with a hammer in an attack that left him with a serious eye injury.
The attacks happen nationwide and are prompted by the high cost of cigarettes and tobacco due to tax increases to curb smoking rates.
But dairy owners say they cannot give up selling cigarettes because they are a large chunk of a dairy's income and attract customers who would otherwise go to a supermarket.
Instead they will consider options such as cigarette vending machines, already in use in some petrol stations, which are virtually impenetrable and require age identification.
Thakkar also said they would look at upgrading security and enlisting extra help from police.
In June last year the National Government pledged $1.8 million for co-funding for security measures for owner-operated dairies and other businesses including options for an audible alarm or a DNA spray.
But the costs were so prohibitive, even at 50 per cent with the Government paying the other half, that only one business had taken up the offer by early this year.
In December the subsidies were boosted by the Labour Government to help dairy owners afford a fog cannon.
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 $250 - with the Government picking up the rest of the $4000 tab.
National MP for Hamilton East David Bennett said he would be encouraging the Minister of Justice Andrew Little to investigate tougher penalties for aggravated robbery to act as a deterrent to criminals.
Bennett, who would attend the meeting, said while police caught 80 per cent of aggravated robbery offenders, there was no real disincentive for a person not to commit the crime.
"It's time something was done around the penalties for people who attack dairy owners like this," Bennett said.
"At the moment it's too easy for them to get away with it. Dairy owners are just easy targets and there's been two attacks within a number of days that have been very dangerous."
He said cigarette vending machines were a good idea but cost thousands of dollars and were out of reach financially for most diary owners.
"I will be encouraging the Minister for Justice to look at higher sanctions for robbery of a dairy."
The meeting starts at 2pm at SuperValue, Gordonton Rd.