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Indian Jewellers Disappointed Over Govt's Progress On Crime

Harish Lodhia's Sona Sansaar was robbed on 10 February. Photo: RNZ / Blessen Tom

Indian owners of independent jewellery stores have expressed disappointment over the government's lack of progress on crime after a spate of aggravated robberies in recent months.

In addition to some Michael Hill stores targeted this year, Manurewa-based House Of Gold and Diamond and Papatoetoe-based Sona Sansaar are two Indian-owned stores that have suffered robberies in the past two months.

Glitter Jewellers owner Manoj Singh Raju, who told RNZ in October that he hadn't experienced a burglary or robbery in the 12 years he has been open on the main street, was visibly shaken after the attack on Anzac Day.



"It was such a horrible day for us," Raju said. "Nobody in my family has been able to sleep since that day. We are all so shaken. New Zealand is no longer the 'heaven on Earth' we thought it [was] when we migrated here."

Harish Lodhia, Fiji's honorary consul in Auckland and owner of Sona Sansaar, expressed similar sentiments after being attacked on 10 February.

"I still wake up in the middle of the night shaking and sweating," Lodhia said. "After the incident, my staff couldn't come to work for weeks, and many of them are still undergoing counselling.

"Apart from the obvious substantial financial loss, which often runs into millions, the trauma faced by victims of aggravated robberies is an ongoing tragedy often ignored."

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Gurdeep Singh, owner of Pooja Jewellers in Papatoetoe and one of the first Punjabi jewellers in New Zealand, said things used to be very different 20 years ago when he opened his shop.

"When an aggravated robbery happens at a jewellery store, one's entire life's work goes out of the gate in matter of seconds," Singh said.

"When we started two decades back, we didn't have any cages, strong doors or any kind of fear," he said. "We were migrants trying to make an honest living. And we made our businesses brick by brick. To see all that shattered within minutes is traumatic."

Siva Kilari, National Party candidate for Manurewa and the highest-ranked Indian-origin candidate on the party's list in the 2023 election, defended the coalition government's work on tackling crime over the past six months.

"It is absolutely devastating [that] our community is being hit hard by crime and experiencing these setbacks far too often," Kilari said. "Since taking office six months ago, the National-led coalition has taken decisive action to address crime.

"They've prioritized rehabilitation efforts through initiatives like the boot-camp program to divert young offenders from a life of crime," he said.


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"Resources have been reallocated to better support victims, redirecting funding from cultural reports to enhance victim services such as counselling and court attendance support," he said.

"Our approach is simple - tougher consequences for crime. Imposing stricter penalties is essential in deterring criminal behaviour."

Manurewa candidate for National Siva Kilari.

Siva Kilari was the National Party's candidate for Manurewa in the 2023 election. Photo: Facebook / Siva Kilari

Kilari said Police Minister Mark Mitchell directly contacted Raju of Glitter Jewellers to offer his support following the attack.

"I am also aware that Manurewa police are providing ongoing victim support and the local community have rallied around the jewellery store owner," he said.

Mitchell elaborated on measures the government wanted to see in place to prevent further aggravated robberies.

"I have made my expectations very clear that I want to see an increased presence of officers on the beat in our CBDs," Mitchell said.

"We have a plan to recruit 500 more police. We are giving them powers to come down hard on gang offending and illegal firearms. We are establishing youth military style academies, bringing back Three Strikes and bringing in tougher sentencing," he said.

"Over the last six years we've seen our police up against an overwhelming increase in crime. It's going to take time to get on top of it, but we are committed to cracking down on serious offending and gangs, working hard alongside police to turn things around."

Gurdeep Singh is the owner of Pooja Jewellers in Papatoetoe.

Gurdeep Singh is the owner of Pooja Jewellers in Papatoetoe. Photo: RNZ / Blessen Tom

Indian owners of independent jewellery stores were sceptical such measures would make much impact.

"The crime scene is getting worse," Singh said. "During the election campaign, promises were made by Mr Luxon and his team, but they are failing to control crime. We just see a blame game going on.

"We need harsher punishment for offenders, and we need to make the parents of young offenders accountable. Without this, I don't think the boot camps initiative [will] make any difference."

Raju agreed.

"We used to think [the high crime rates were] because of the Labour government, but it's been six months now since the National-led coalition was sworn in, but nothing has changed."

Lodhia called on the government to introduce immediate changes.

"These kids need to be in school, and they need to be put through the right channels to make them better citizens of this country," Lodhia said. "People are fed up."

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