A Hamilton vape store worker caught up in a terrifying armed robbery was made to kneel on the ground “and a knife put to his neck”.
The Hamilton store’s owner Sidhu Naresh says his shop has been targeted multiple times. He does not believe a newly announced fog cannon rollout will stop the crime spree and says the Government needs to focus on consequences for violent and repeat offenders.
Naresh told Newstalk ZB’s Heather Du Plessis-Allan this evening his store was targeted on Friday in an armed attack by four young offenders.
“My staff was made to kneel and a knife was put to his neck,” Naresh said.
“They came and smashed everything, every single one of the cabinets, and they walked away with the till.”
Naresh said a courier who tried to stop the offenders was injured during the raid, and at least $4000 in cash was stolen.
His staff told him the robbers “couldn’t have been more than 16 years old”.
Even more shocking, the police told Naresh they believe the offenders to be the same people involved in another attack on his business just a few weeks prior.
Earlier today, the Government announced new measures to combat retail crime – including a fog cannon subsidy scheme open to all small shops and dairies in New Zealand, even if they had not been previously victimised.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said funding of $4000 will be available for each shop. The fog cannons will be installed through an approved supplier, meaning shops can access them directly.
The announcement came after the alleged murder of Sandringham shopkeeper Janak Patel last Wednesday following an apparent robbery.
Naresh said he doubts the fog cannons will do anything to prevent offenders from targeting his store.
“Every time something like this happens the Government comes in and starts giving you this funding and that funding,” Naresh said.
“But when are they going to talk about the consequences these guys are going through?”
He said although the new measures may help keep his staff safe, they will do little to crime occurring.
Earlier in her show, Du Plessis-Allan asked Police Minister Chris Hipkins why “it took someone to die” before the subsidy was announced.
“This is something we have been working on for a while now and we have been working in association with other community leaders,” Hipkins said.
“Some of the changes that were announced today were changes that were requested by small businesses around Auckland.”
Hipkins argued that the Government had been working hard to make sure it was “hitting the mark” and getting extra support to small businesses.
He said the $6 million is currently being used to install 431 different security measures, but admitted the measures had only been installed in eight stores so far.
Some delays were “out of the Government’s control”, such as insurance companies taking too long to process claims.
“If a car has been driven into the front of a shop, you can’t put a roller door in until the front of the store has been rebuilt,” Hipkins said.
He believed the Rose Cottage Superette where Janak Patel worked did not qualify for fog cannons under the original fund because its only previous “victimisation” happened in 2016, making it low on the priority list.
Earlier today, when Hipkins joined the Prime Minister at the post-Cabinet press conference, he said that global supply chain issues had also hindered progress, but police had successfully ordered an extra 455 fog cannons, which are expected to arrive before Christmas.
“More challenging will be the time it takes to install them. The 1000 fog cannons that are already installed took four years, and despite the police doubling the number of local contractors that will do the work to six, it’s expected it will take until the second quarter of next year for the number of installations to start to ramp up.”
He disputed claims the Government was to blame for Patel’s death, and said he felt it would be inappropriate to suggest fog cannons would have prevented his murder.
This content was originally published here.