28 Sep 2017

Dairy owners unimpressed by security fund

10:07 am on 28 September 2017

Some dairy owners say they haven't seen a cent of a $1.8 million fund set up to protect their businesses, despite having been violently robbed.

Police officers in Auckland

There is some confusion over how dairy owners can access funding from the security fund that will help them to protect their business and themselves from violent robberies. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Police Minister Paula Bennett announced the fund in June for high-risk small business owners.

She said the police would pay up to half the cost of security measures such as panic and high volume interior alarms, DNA spray and fog cannons.

Mrs Bennett said up to 600 businesses would get the money.

But Jignesh Patel, who owns Rimu Street Superette in Auckland's Grey Lynn and was robbed at gunpoint two months ago, said he had not seen a cent.

"I spent $6000 inside [on metal doors and grills] already, so I'm just wondering whether I can get $1500 back... [from] the government, but there's been no response," he said.

He and his wife were scared they would be targeted again by thieves, he said.

Further south in Onehunga, Quality Liquor Spot owner Gurjeet Singh said his elderly father needed eight stitches in his face after being struck by a hammer when seven robbers looted his store a week ago.

He desperately wanted to add better security measures to his store, but did not know how to access the funding.

"There is a lack of communication between police [and business owners] and the structure of ... the funds," he said.

"I heard [about the funding] from somebody else, but I don't have any idea how ... I can go and get that money."

Crime Prevention Group president Sunny Kaushal said the confusion about the funding process was widespread across small business owners.

He had hoped to meet police district commanders in the area on Tuesday night but no one turned up, he said.

"There are a lot of questions - how it [is being] distributed and who [is distributing it]," he said.

"We wanted [the police] to come forward and talk to us, we wanted to discuss that problem with them - they haven't come forward."

In a statement, police said the district commanders were unable to attend the meeting at short notice.

Staff members working on crime prevention audits in almost 1000 Auckland stores had offered to meet up with the group, but didn't receive a response, police said.

Security equipment had been installed in some stores but police could not say how many, or how much of the money had been distributed.

Officers were visiting businesses they had identified as eligible for funding and more businesses would be added as time went on, police said.

But Mr Kaushal was not impressed, saying there had been up to six dairy robberies in Auckland in the past 10 days and it was showing no sign of stopping.

"It is really frustrating at this stage because at the end of the day there are a number of people [whose] lives are at risk, their properties are at risk and... we're not seeing any difference with what has happened so far in terms of the actions from police."

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