Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the closure of a West Auckland NZ Post shop due to increasing crime was “heartbreaking” and the level of retail crime is “unacceptable”.
The owners of Titirangi Lotto and Post Shop told the Herald yesterday they were quitting after decades of running their business - frustrated by repeat destructive raids targeting their store.
Hipkins told the AM Show this morning that the news was “absolutely heartbreaking and totally unacceptable.
“I absolutely acknowledge that the situation we are facing around retail crime at the moment with ram raids and with aggravated robberies. It is utterly unacceptable,” Hipkins said.
”We’ve clearly got a lot more work to do in this space.”
Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking Breakfast this morning, Hipkins acknowledged small businesses and big jewellery chain stores like Michael Hill shutting their doors as a result of increasing retail crime was “concerning”.
He said a lot of crime committed by young people was being filmed for social media and it was not just an issue in New Zealand.
“There is a social media trend around this which is difficult to combat, they are taking videos and posting on social media sites to gain popularity.
“If you look at the ram raid statistics relative to a number of people arrested and going to the youth system, police are doing a good job.
“New Zealand Police are doing a good job, putting those responsible through the justice system. But the answer is not easy.
“It is sometimes slow work. They can’t identify who the kids are from videos.”
Aboli Bhave, owner of Titirangi Lotto and Post Shop, said after 20 years to be closing the shop doors for good is very sad.
The store was hit a seventh time in April by thieves and that was the last straw, Bhave said.
“We were thinking what to do and then we came to the decision we won’t take it any more. I am sick of all the crime and sick of the justice system.”
Bhave said police had been “extremely helpful” and that New Zealand Post had done whatever they could in their capacity to support her business.
However, safety took priority when making the decision to close.
“Everybody is happy in the sense we had been feeling unsafe.
“It will be a business loss because we are closing the shop not selling it. Selling is different, it means money.”
Bhave said the community had been excellent but the crime had put them off.
“The justice system is very unsupportive. Police do their job finding criminals. But they can’t put teenagers behind bars which seems to be escalating crime because they [offenders] know they won’t go to jail.
“I believe everyone is feeling the same thing I am. Everybody is under pressure it is not just me. But they have to just go on.”
Something better needed to be done sooner rather than later, Bhave said.
“As for us nothing can be done it is all final now.”
A NZ Post spokesperson said from time to time some of their shops had been subjected to break-ins and while “this is extremely disappointing for our business partners and us it is not unique to NZ Post.
“NZ Post services will continue to operate from the Titirangi Lotto and Post Shop until September 22.
“In the meantime, we will look for another potential business partner in the area and keep the local community and our box holders informed when more information is available.”
On April 14, Bhave was woken up by a distressing call alerting her to yet another ram raid-style burglary at her post shop.
She had told the Herald at the time the group of offenders had first stolen a car on South Titirangi Rd and then minutes later targeted the shop leaving it in a complete state of disarray.
“Despite the sound of alarms, they went in like they were free to do what they wanted.”
The CCTV footage showed it took the group two large blows to shatter the front glass, Bhave said.
“Once they were inside, one man broke the inside of the post area, the other went to the Lotto area and took the empty cash register.... we don’t leave a cent in there.
“A lot of stationery items, art material and greeting cards were left on the floor. They left a huge damage which would cost thousands.”
Bhave said the clean-up was likely to take at least a week.
“I have been here since 3am. It has made me very insecure. I don’t feel like coming to this place.
“For the people who did this, I have no mercy for them at all.
“They should be punished heavily for what they have done not just a simple pat on the back.”
It was the first time the store had been ram raided, she said.
“There was a break-in six weeks ago where a similar thing happened, the culprit took the empty cash register.”