A spokeswoman for a Rotorua dairy hit several times by robbers has welcomed news dairies and other small businesses could be in line for government-funded fog cannons, DNA spray, panic alarms and time safes for cash and cigarettes.

Police Minister Paula Bennett has announced $1.8 million will be made available for robbery prevention at dairies, superettes and small local businesses.

It follows a spate of violent aggravated robberies around the country as armed intruders wanting cash and tobacco bash dairy owners, putting some in hospital.

Rotorua's Sunset Price Cutter Superette has had multiple robberies and a spokeswoman said staff were excited by the news.


"I think it's a good idea. Security systems are expensive and a fund like this would really help," she said. "It's really scary without those systems in place."

She said the key things she would spend the money on were fog dispensers and perhaps pepper spray.

"The main thing will be seeing more police foot patrols in place," she said.

The duty manager at Four Square Edmund Rd said the store already had some of these systems place and its thefts have been reducing.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said he would be pushing hard to ensure Rotorua and Te Puke got a fair share of the money.

"I encourage any local businesses that have genuine safety concerns to make contact with police and see whether they are eligible for financial support or safety advice."

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Mrs Bennett said the Government wanted to stop the crimes from happening the first place and make it easier to catch the criminals.

"I want these cowards to know these crimes will no longer be tolerated."

Police will help to decide the best prevention methods to be used. She estimated the cost would be around $3000 per dairy, of which police will pay half.

A security audit will be done for each business deemed at high risk and a decision will then be made over what measures will be taken, Mrs Bennett said.

"Businesses assessed as being high risk will be invited to apply for co-funding for things like panic and high volume interior alarms, DNA spray, fog cannons and time safes for cash and storage of cigarettes. Shop owners will also be given advice about how to alter the layout of their shops to make them safer.

"We think this is going to prevent burglaries, but if it's oversubscribed we can look at it further," she said.

Police came up with the idea, and she was able to find the money, Mrs Bennett said.

Preventative work is already going on - working with truants, working with their families, she told media.

But Act leader David Seymour said the announcement didn't go far enough.

"Act already said dairy owners deserve relief from crime fuelled by rising tobacco taxes. The Government's proposal of giving a pittance to a minority of stores is a cynical attempt to be seen doing something without actually helping vulnerable shopkeepers."