Govt outlines multimillion-dollar package to help tackle retail crime

November 28, 2022
A fog cannon in use at a Michael Hill jewellery store.

The Government has announced a new multimillion-dollar package aimed at preventing retail crime.

It comes after dairy worker Janak Patel was fatally stabbed in Auckland's Sandringham on Wednesday night last week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media this afternoon that Cabinet discussed the "horrific homicide" of Patel, and thanked police for their "speedy investigation and apprehension of three individuals".

"Given the matter is before the courts, I can't say much more at this time other than to acknowledge how important it is that justice is done. But we also need to continue to do all we can to prevent crimes being committed against workers and shop owners.

"Over the last few weeks, Cabinet has been looking at how we can better support businesses, and has signed off today an additional package to continue to tackle retail crime," Ardern said.

The package will include:

  • A $4 million fund to support local council crime prevention programmes in Auckland, Hamilton and the Bay of Plenty
  • Expanded eligibility for the existing $6 million Retail Crime Prevention fund to include aggravated robberies and those committed within the last year
  • A new fog cannon subsidy scheme, with the Government providing $4000 to all small shops and dairies who want it

"While youth crime is now much lower than in the past, the risks and harm from ram-raids and other retail crime is concerning communities and creating victims," Ardern said in a statement.

"Shop owners and workers feel targeted. That's unacceptable."

Fog cannons

Police Minister Chris Hipkins said police had ordered an extra 455 fog cannons, expected before Christmas.

"This adds to the 270 fog cannons that are currently in the country and have been allocated to affected shops," he said, adding that installing them can be "challenging" in terms of time.

"The 1000 fog cannons that are already installed took four years, and despite Police doubling the number of local contractors that will do the work to six, it's expected it will take till the second quarter of next year for the number of installations to start to ramp up."

"In 2018, we stepped up our investment in aggravated robbery prevention initiatives, which resulted in the roll-out of over 1000 fog cannons," Ardern said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Minister Chris Hipkins announcing their multi-million dollar package to help tackle retail crime.

"Previously the initiative set up by the last [National] government following an increase in aggravated robberies in 2016 had a much more narrow scope.

"We know these installations [Labour's] have made a difference."

New funding for council initiatives

The $4 million allocated to local councils to assist with crime prevention programmes is made up of $2 million for Auckland, $1 million for Hamilton and $1 million for the Bay of Plenty, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the councils.

"We have targeted those areas that have experienced a particular spike in retail crime," Ardern said.

The funding will "likely" focus on tools including street lighting and CCTV cameras in areas where small retailers are frequently targeted.

Expanded eligibility for Retail Crime Prevention Fund

The $6 million Retail Crime Prevention Fund, established earlier this year and previously focused on ram-raids, will now expand to include aggravated robberies committed over the past 12 months.

Ardern said there have been 517 ram-raids this year, with 360 prosecutions and 145 youth referrals in response.

She praised the "concerted effort by police to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice".

"We have seen a decrease in ram-raids from the high point in August to 13 this month thus far."

Hipkins said "Police are making progress on the number of stores accessing the fund".

"More than 100 shops now have installations approved, with 431 security measures allocated and underway. This includes 93 fog cannons, 78 security sirens, 57 alarms, 63 CCTV systems, 43 bollards and 36 roller doors.

"We'll also continue our work with repeat offenders and their families."