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Auckland businesses dread daytime smashes on the rise

On September 21, 2022, a group of up to eight people targeted the Stewart Dawson's in St. Luke's Mall, smashing glass cabinets and robbing jewelry before fleeing.

On September 20, 2022, a group of up to eight people targeted the Stewart Dawson’s in St. Luke’s Mall, smashing glass cabinets and robbing jewelry before fleeing.
Photo: RNZ / Lucy Shea

After a smash-and-grab in a busy shopping center, an Auckland business owner wants funding for an active community patrol.

A group of up to eight people, wearing masks and armed with batons, targeted Stewart Dawson’s in Auckland’s St Luke’s Mall late Tuesday afternoon, smashing glass cabinets and grabbing jewels into a parking lot. ran away.

Witnesses told police that some of the attackers may have been children as young as eight.

The getaway car was found some distance from the mall, but police have yet to arrest anyone.

No one was injured in the attack, but the incident left staff upset and in tears.

Katherine Goodwin, a member of the Mount Albert Business Association, said. morning report Businesses were losing confidence in the judicial system’s ability to protect them.

“We feel this shows that the judicial system has lost control, youth crime has intensified, and social services across multiple agencies are not functioning effectively.”

She said Tuesday’s incident was particularly shocking because the robbery took place during normal business hours.

Meanwhile, other robbery raids in the Mount Albert area left the family business with tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket over the course of the year, Goodwin said.

Police respond to a robbery at a jewelery store in St Luke's Shopping Center in Auckland on September 20, 2022.

Police respond to a robbery at a jewelry store in St Luke’s Shopping Center in Auckland on September 20, 2022.
Photo: RNZ / Felix Walton

Goodwin said he was unconvinced by the recently released Stats NZ figures showing a decline in the number of young people appearing in court after 2021.

“I think it’s because people haven’t gone through the process of appearing in court. It doesn’t look like there are any arrests expected. In fact, the system hasn’t completely solved youth crimes.

“I would never say that it is a reduction in youth crime, it is the fact that the system does not hold people accountable.”

Auckland Transportation (AT) has responded to the increase in assault incidents by asking businesses and sites experiencing assault incidents or repeated vehicle accidents to apply to consider installing bollards.

Goodwin said the response was “ridiculous”. Landlords were pressured to pay for applications, installations, maintenance and security upgrades.

“Security grilles cost tens of thousands of dollars, and roller doors and bollards are similarly expensive.

“They require congressional consent and I have found that to be difficult, so on behalf of our landlords, people are making it as difficult as possible,” she said. rice field.

On September 20, 2022, a group of up to eight people targeted the Stewart Dawson's in St. Luke's Mall, smashing glass cabinets and robbing jewelry before fleeing.

Police have yet to arrest anyone in connection with the smash and grab that took place at Stewart Dawson’s in St. Luke’s Mall yesterday afternoon.
Photo: RNZ / Lucy Shea

Goodwin said security facilities are a stark reminder of the divisions within the community and are unsightly and shouldn’t be necessary.

Instead, she called for a proactive funding approach to community policing.

“Proactive security measures by local police are needed, and industry groups should have mechanisms through community patrols. Mount Albert is very active in that area, but it all depends on volunteers.

“These are initiatives that should be funded, so having a genuine walkabout community patrol would see this cut down as it is not a fragile business.”

Small businesses, such as dairy owners, are also facing higher operating costs for staffing as they can no longer run their businesses on their own, Goodwin said. .

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Simon Bridges.
Photo: Dom Thomas

Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Simon Bridges said businesses of all sizes are increasingly at risk of robbery and cannot rely on the police.

He said a recent survey of businesses shows clear concern and a sense that no one is immune to citywide risk.

“There’s a growing real sense that the police are unwilling to keep them safe, so they’re using their own devices, whether it’s bollards, security, or many other costly security measures. must be used.”

Bridges said companies told him security measures like bollards were difficult and expensive to install.

Earlier this month, the government introduced the ‘Better Pathways’ package to educate, train or put more young people into work to help reduce youth crime.

Police Minister Chris Hipkins said the package was designed to prevent young people involved in crime from being further pushed into a life of adult crime, but it could not give harsher punishments across the board. .