Dairy owners are caging themselves behind counters with metal bars out of fear for their safety.
Indian community leader and National Party member Sunny Kaushal said he knew of at least a dozen dairy owners who had put up metal "grilles" inside their stores and more were choosing to as violent assaults on shop owners continued in Auckland.
"They're desperate for their safety," Kaushal said.
"Of course it's a very sad look, it's not the kind of New Zealand you want to see, but these people are living in fear."
A spate of violent robberies earlier this year and the apparent rise of crime against small businesses led to the formation of a community action group in March.
Kaushal organised the first meeting of the group, saying the action group would also involve religious bodies, business groups, education institutions and local boards and would work closely with police.
Even when dairy owners let the thieves make off with goods from their stores - which usually included cigarettes - the robberies would often turn violent, Kaushal said.
"[So] they are putting a wall in between them at least to stop these offenders from reaching out."
Kaushal thanked police for their efforts to reduce these types of crime, saying from what he'd seen there did appear to be a drop-off in attacks in the Auckland region within the last month or so.
"Police have been very active and that's sending a good strong message."
Former North Harbour rugby player Junior Poluleuligaga tweeted a photo from a Papatoetoe dairy in South Auckland last week showing metal grilles separating a customer and a dairy worker behind a counter.
"Just popped into this local dairy in Papatoetoe. Makes me angry that it's come to this," he wrote.
The dairy's owner, who asked not to be named, said he knew of several shop owners who had resorted to using bars or grilles to fence themselves in.
He had been robbed once and had fears for his safety, he said.