Three liquor-store owners, who were robbed recently in the Auckland region, diverge from government’s projection of downward trends in crime victim stats saying, “It does not feel right.”
A press release from the office of the Minister of Police Stuart Nash on Friday, December 7 stated that there was a significant drop in the number of people who have been victims of crime in the last one year.
“In the 12 months to October 31, 2018, the number of victimisations recorded by Police fell by 3.5 per cent.
“This means 9,353 fewer people were victims of a crime during the year, compared to the preceding 12 months.
“The fall in recorded crime equates to 1,304 fewer crimes against a person and 8,049 fewer crimes against property,” Mr Nash said.
However, three dairy owners spoken to by The Indian Weekender, who had recently experienced robbery and theft of property, expressed their anguish and helplessness, about the ease with which their workplaces were being targeted by some “gutless opportunists” and getting away without any consequences.
CCTV footage of the robbery supplied by Melrose Liquor Spot in Mt Roskill (Supplied Video)
‘We don’t report every victimisation to police.’
Harnek Singh of Liquor Baron Otara said with a sense of visible frustration, “It does not feel right. The last time when I had to report to the police about an incident of theft was only a few weeks ago when someone walked away with all my keys from the counter.
“Since he took away all my keys of the shop, van and home, therefore, my family felt a strong sense of violation and we decided to change all keys, as we felt terribly insecure.
Liquor Baron in Otara (Supplied Image)
“We reported the incident to police and provided all CCTV footage where the offender was clearly identified. However, there was no outcome as neither could the police get hold of the culprit nor did we get any piece of mind.
“Since then we had already at least three more instances where gutless customers have helped themselves with items on display and walked away after threatening staff on duty,” Mr Singh said.
“We had not bothered to report it to police again. I am sure that’s the case with many other dairy store owners,” Mr Singh said with a gasp.
‘There is no point in reporting to police’
Gurjeet Bhangu, owner of the Quality Liquor store in Onehunga shares the sentiment of desperation and helplessness when it comes to reporting to police about theft, threatening and assault at his workplace.
“My shop has been targeted at least three times this year with assault and robbery.
“The scene is most of the time same with a group of teenagers forcefully barging in and assaulting someone in the shop, despite no provocation or resistance from our side,” Mr Bhangu told The Indian Weekender.
Gurjeet Bhangu at his Quality Liquor Store on Mt Smart Road in Onehunga (IWK Bureau)
“We have stopped keeping a count of instances where people help themselves away with items in the shop and refuse to pay.
“Their audacity to not pay, and walk away without fear of any consequences, is sometimes very frustrating,” Mr Bhangu said.
Reporting every instance of property theft is a futile exercise believes Mr Bhangu.
“In many instances, they come and visit the shop and we provide them with all possible evidence including CCTV footage. However, rarely we hear back from them about any progress.
“Recently, I had chased an opportunist shoplifter with assistance from some helpful customers and identified that they live down the lane behind my shop. I told this to police and shared CCTV footage, but unfortunately there was no action,” Mr Bhangu said.
"You feel stressed and don't feel normal for a few days.
“I am seriously thinking of getting out of this business. It’s not worth it,” Mr Bhangu said.
‘We are living in perpetual fear’
Hemal Monee, owner of Melrose Liquor Spot in Mt Roskill, which was robbed on Monday, December 10 and is frustrated with slow or no progress from police told The Indian Weekender that they are living in fear.
“I am lucky that I escaped with bruises in my eyes, it could have been far worse,” Mr Navneet Singh, store operator at the time of the robbery on Monday said.
The shop is located in the same precinct where about two years ago Crown Superette was attacked by a group of eight boys and girls with baseball bats and crowbars mercilessly hitting the owner couple leaving them badly injured requiring multiple surgeries.
The Crown Superette case had then gained much notoriety, including many public protests and emergence of a community action group – Crime Prevention Group – to lobby support for better safety and harsher punishments for the offenders.
Notice of 'Gate Closed for safety' outside the Melrose Liquor Spot in Mt Roskill (IWK Image)
The injured and shaken owner-couple of Crown Superette had failed to return back to work, with business eventually being sold.
The fear of that incident almost revisited Mr Singh of Melrose Liquor Spot on Monday, December 10, when a similar sized group of young teenagers barged into their shop, hardly a few doors away from Crown Superette, ransacking, hitting and looting.
“Cigarettes and cash were usually the targets.
"If they can't find the smokes, then they take whatever else they can find," Mr Monee said. This time they took away cash, liquor stock and the computer of the store.
The brick used to assault the worker at Melrose Liquor Spot (IWK Image)
“Although police came within ten minutes of the incident, that’s not enough.
“From a perspective of a small business owner such incidents are very overwhelming as it involves dealing with police, insurance and repairs.
“Even if there is no grave injury still there is disruption of business for one or two days after every such instance,” Mr Monee said.