Robberies at dairies and supermarkets are soaring but fewer people are being arrested for the "epidemic" of crimes, National MP Mark Mitchell says.
Dairies, supermarkets and liquor stores recorded a 25.7 per cent increase in victimisations since the Labour-led Government started, Mitchell said today.
But he said arrests for offences at dairies, supermarkets or liquor stores had plummeted in that period from 5228 to 1947 last year.
"New Zealanders deserve to be able to run their own business, or to shop at local businesses, without fear of being robbed or assaulted," Mitchell said.
Theft at these businesses had jumped 32.2 per cent since 2017, he added.
Arrests in Auckland City and Counties Manukau for these occurrences had fallen every year since 2017, but they also fell the year before, when National was in power.
The NZ Police statistics were released to the Dairy and Business Owners Group under the Official Information Act.
"There's a sense of lawlessness gripping not just Auckland but much of New Zealand. Justice is not being seen to be done," Dairy & Business Owners Group chair Sunny Kaushal said.
"We must ask if some kind of catch and release policy is operating. Dairy owners are seeing the same people back on the streets and it undermines our faith in the system."
Recorded theft and related offences in the Auckland City police district rose from 3240 in 2017 to at least 5707 last year.
Police Minister Poto Williams said police had announced a retail investigation unit recently to address those concerns.
"While I absolutely understand the concerns of our retail sector, I know that there's work actively underway to deal with it," she said shortly before Question Time.
When National was in power, police attrition rates were higher, Williams said in the House of Representatives.
Mitchell had asked Williams to explain the big jump in retail crime but reduction in arrest numbers, then requested Williams answer again.
Deputy Speaker Adrian Rurawhe declined Mitchell's request, to the chagrin of National's finance spokesman Simon Bridges.
"She gave us a fun fact rather than answering the question," Bridges said. "She didn't even try and answer the question."
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said retailers generally reported encountering more violent attacks and increasingly self-entitled thieves.
"It's not just dairies. It's right across the sector, whether it's grocery stores or corner dairies or clothes stores," Harford told the Herald. "It's getting worse."
He said the new police retail investigation unit was a good step, and would counter some of the most violent criminals.
"The reality is, no matter who you're stealing from, theft is a crime and someone is a victim," Harford said.
"Even those that are owned by corporate chains have a right to look after their property and keep people safe."