How would you fancy working in a steel cage?

People have different reactions when they see the barrier separating staff from customers at the Kennedy Rd Dairy in Napier, but owner Fiza Nadeem says it makes her feel safe.

The cosy dairy is tucked on the corner of Kennedy Rd and Jull St. Nadeem serves her regulars through a small square window of the cage which stretches across the counter.

The cage is just one of the store's many safety features. It's also heavily alarmed with CCTV cameras and panic buttons and alarms to try to prevent an impulsive or planned invasion.

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Nadeem and her husband took ownership of the dairy in 2017 as well as running a courier business at the same time.

Her husband runs the courier business, leaving her to run the shop solo throughout the day.

After one month of taking ownership, their shop was broken into.

"Nothing was stolen," Nadeem says, "but it was still very frightening.

"As time went on I said to my husband 'you either sell the dairy or you put a barrier up so I feel safe' and that's exactly what he did."

Since its installation, she's more comfortable running the shop solo, but for added peace of mind she's now planning to install a drop-metal security door.

Running a dairy has become more and more dangerous in New Zealand as the price of cigarettes soars. Stories of dairy robberies are increasingly commonplace, even in Hawke's Bay.

Last year two men with a hammer stormed into the Grays Rd Convenient Store and Takeaway in Hastings. One of them smashed the cabinet and the computer screen on the counter, while the other went to the cigarette cabinet.

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In June a screwdriver was used to threaten staff members at Frederick St Dairy in Hastings, then later in July, four people stormed into Bellevue Dairy on Gloucester St, Taradale armed with knives, metal bars and a hockey stick.

Just over a week ago three "young boys", wielding hammers brazenly entered the Westshore Corner Store and allegedly stole cigarettes and cash before fleeing.

"I've heard about other dairies in Hawke's Bay getting broken into and it really scares me," Nadeem says.

"I was really sad especially when I heard about what happened at the Westshore Dairy. I can't emphasise enough how important security is and how much safer I feel with all this in place."

Nadeem said the installation of all the security equipment came at a significant cost, but safety was paramount for herself, her husband and her nine year old son.

"Some people are a little surprised, some are hesitant, but then others are completely fine with it," she said.

"I think people understand that we just do it to keep ourselves safe."