A $6 million Government retail crime prevention programme has arrived "a bit too late" for Bay store owners hit by thefts and ram raids.
But some say the assistance gives them hope.
Police Minister Poto Williams yesterday announced $6m from the Proceeds of Crime Fund would be invested in a police-managed crime prevention programme.
"This funding will enable police to work closely with vulnerable small retailers to identify effective and practical solutions based on the particular features of each location," Williams said.
Police will establish and manage the programme of funding, with work beginning in Auckland and expanding if required.
It comes as local police reported the number of ram raids in the Bay of Plenty have tripled between 2019 and 2021.
Omokoroa Minimart and Takeaways owner Saed Rajput hoped the programme would be made available to retailers in the Bay of Plenty.
Rajput bought the minimart in July 2021 and said he invested his heart, soul and savings into the business.
"I spent a lot of time to get the trust of people, a lot of money to fix the store," Rajput said.
Then, just as the minimart and takeaway food business began to do well, Rajput's store was broken into for the first time.
"They didn't get anything [that time]."
But then 10 days later there was another break-in and two months after that, Rajput hid in the back of his shop as it was ram raided.
"I have trauma now," Rajput said.
"I keep waking up in the middle of the night, checking cameras, checking the shop."
If a fourth break-in happens, Rajput said, the business would not be able to cope.
"My insurance didn't cover the ram raid. There are too many bills to pay.
"I'm not getting money from anywhere and my savings are gone."
Rajput said he was happy to hear the Government was thinking of small businesses.
"It would take some percentage of my burden away."
Rotorua and Te Puke Jewellery store owner Rod Pearce believed the programme could be very helpful.
"Anything that's positive like that would be awesome," Pearce said.
"We've taken a hammering and there are other retailers that haven't been robbed but they're living in fear."
Pearce said he would like to see the programme target the ram raiders and thieves before they committed the crimes and not just afterwards.
G.A.S. Lake Rotoma store manager EJ Martin said the $6m programme was "pretty good" news.
The rural station was ram raided in March last year.
"We just got some bollards put in a couple of months ago," Martin said.
Martin thought the programme would be particularly helpful in bigger towns and cities where offending was even more common.
Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell said the news was "a bit late" for people like him.
Campbell's butchery was burned down as a result of a ram raid in October.
"Anything that can help people secure themselves from ram raiders has got to be a good thing but I have to say it's sort of like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff," Campbell said.
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"You can have all the cameras but there won't be any consequences and that's where the issue lies."
Campbell said he didn't believe all offenders needed to go to jail but that there needed to be more consequences for parents.
"Police work very hard. But then these kids walk out of court giving them the finger guns.
"Anything that can help people save businesses is a good thing but I say the devil's in the detail."
Rotorua Lakes Council deputy chief executive community wellbeing, Anaru Pewhairangi, said the programme was sure to be welcomed by businesses.
"[The] council already works closely with our police and we would be keen to understand more about the programme to see whether there is any way that we may be able to contribute to this locally."
Police and Tauranga City Council have also been approached for comment.