New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to live has taken another knock with the news that a Whangarei supermarket (above) was held up by a man with a shotgun on Monday night. Not the sort of thing you’d expect to happen when you’re queuing up in your slippers to pay for your daily milk and bread.
An armed police response unit, called the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) , were called to local home after the alleged gunman fled from Tikipunga’s Countdown. Tikipunga is one the biggest suburbs in Whangarei.
The robbery comes at a time that the police union warn about a knife being taken to their budget, a murder investigation is launched after a woman’s body in found in a drain in Napier (the place where a gang recently fired a gun into a rugby crowd) and police finally get the go ahead to keep Glock pistols and Bushmaster rifles in every vehicle in their fleet.
You can read more about the actions of the AOS in New Zealand in our blog here
The Dom Post has today reported on the robbery of another small business in New Zealand, this time a dairy (NZ vernacular for a small convenience store) in the small town of Havelock North.
The report in itself is surprising given that there are restrictions on crime reports that are released to the press.
It tells of the terror an immigrant family faced when trying to run a small business in small town New Zealand. Their story must be similar to that of many other dairy owners, for whom the death of Navtej Singh who died in his store when he was shot in the chest with a rifle, must be still prominent in their minds, and it demonstrates how acts of robbery impact on migrant families who come to New Zealand looking for better lives.
Four men came into the family’s Middle Road Dairy on Sunday afternoon and held a rifle to Mr Ramjit Ramjit as they robbed his store, metres away from where his wife was preparing the family’s evening meal. The Dom Post said:
Mr Ramjit said the experience was terrifying, particularly as most of his family were in the rear of the dairy in Middle Rd, Havelock North, where they lived. His 10-year-old son was due to walk through the front door of the shop at any minute…
But this wasn’t an isolated incident by any means, Mr Ramjit’s only staff member was held up at gunpoint in the town last year and is still traumatised by that event. According to the Dom Post.
Mr Ramjit said he would not consider changing occupations, but his sole staff member was not so sure. John Booth sold his own dairy in Havelock North last year after being held up at gunpoint in April. He and his mother and aunt were in his Lipscombe Cres dairy when a man with a pistol burst in and took cash.
Mr Booth said his decision to sell the business was directly related to the robbery. “It was just too scary.” Though he had not been in the dairy on Sunday, the robbery had frightened him all over again.
“I was just starting to come right. Now I’m very nervous again.” Read the full report here
We checked our list and found just two other aggravated robberies in small businesses in the town that had been reported on by the media since 2009. There is the hold-up at Lipscombe Dairy on 2 April, in which the accused had been bailed and had then crashed his vehicle. The other was at the Video Ezy on 10 March this year when a man threatened staff with a spanner before stealing cash.
Coincidentally, Havleock North was one of four regions in New Zealand included in an Victoria University Study – “Not in my backyard? Crime in the Neighbourhood”
The study showed that although >80% of people thought crime was a problem in New Zealand 63.2 per cent of them believed it was a problem only in other areas. Given the rising crime figures in New Zealand, which includes the fifth highest murder rate in the OECD and the overall rise in total offences in the Hastings area, that raises some questions as to the accuracy of crime reporting by the media and how much the public’s perception’s of crime can be influenced by news reporting.
No Crime in Gisborne, It’s Official - Updates - “GISBORNE police have decided to restrict the information on crime they provide to media in a move to “make the community feel safer”. Up until now, The Gisborne Herald has been given detailed reports of crimes attended by police, including burglaries, domestic violence and the arrests that make up our daily “Police briefs”. But earlier this week area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said comprehensive information would no longer be provided. He saw no benefit in “reporting all and sundry”…read the whole article here
Under reporting of crime to the media – it took a year before the news of the second robbery of Navtej Singh’s shop got out.
Yin Ping Yang’s Murderer Was A Serial Home Invader; NZ Crime Compared To Oakland, US And South Africa - ” Last month, Joanne Wang, 39, was killed in a hit and run after her handbag was snatched; Yang Yin Ping, 80, was fatally attacked in her Manurewa home; and Navtej Singh, 30, was shot during a robbery of his liquor store. All the victims were Asian…Businessman Charles Kang, a trade consultant originally from Singapore, said many of his overseas clients have raised concerns over safety issues over doing business in New Zealand.
“One compared New Zealand to South Africa, and another said Auckland was fast becoming for us what Oakland is to America,” said Mr Kang. “Many expressed surprise at the level of crime we experience here, because New Zealand has a reputation as being a safe country.”
Police Minister infuriated at newspaper’s test of security at Super 14s match – reporters testing security at a rugby match weren’t pretending to be terrorists.
It’s official: Politicians can’t take a joke - “MPs may make fools of themselves from time to time but they want to ban others from doing it. Satire, ridicule and denigration of MPs using any television footage shot from parliamentary galleries is to be banned under rules proposed by the standing orders committee. The move on freedom of expression is not the only controversy the rules have caused. They also create anomalies between what television cameras can show and what newspapers photographers are allowed to show, giving television the advantage…”
Canterbury, more specifically Christchurch, is undergoing something of a serious crime wave at the moment with the news this morning that a pub was held-up by two men armed with a gun and a knife last night. The region is now averaging more than one violent armed robbery a week in commercial premises.
Patrons at the Glenbyre Tavern in Christchurch (above) were shot at by one of the men but managed to fend off the attackers until police turned up to arrest them. Read the full story here.
Other aggravated burglaries in the area during the last 8 weeks, the majority of them committed using a firearm:
7 July: ASB Asian Banking Centre in Riccarton, CHRISTCHURCH11.20am, man armed with a large knife link
6 July: Cashel Food Market, Cashel St/Fitzgerald Ave, CHRISTCHURCH 8.05pm, two men with gun link
6 July: Aladdin Dairy, Armagh/Barbadoes streets, CHRISTCHURCH, 7.05pm, man with gun link
29 June: St Martins Pharmacy,CHRISTCHURCH, man with a knife escaped with morphine link
26 June: Leithfield Hotel, LEITHFIELD, North Canterbury. 11.30pm. Man with gun tied up proprietor and escaped with money and alcohol link. See also “high risk robberies for little financial gain“
26 June: Edgeware Road Post Shop, St Albans, CHRISTCHURCH. Two men with guns robbed shop at 12.30 in the afternoon. 8 People traumatised link and link
18 June: ANZ Bank, Avonhead, CHRISTCHURCH 11.20am, two men. No details released about weapon used, thousands of dollars taken link and link
29 May: Opawa Universal Dairy, Opawa, CHRISTCHURCH man with firearm injured dairy owner, escaped with tobacco, 9.50pm link
14 May: National Bank, Hornby, CHRISTCHURCH, two men with knife, 1.15pm link
Almost 370,000 criminal prosecutions were taken through the New Zealand courts in the past year. That’s 9% higher than the previous year and 40% higher than in 2000.
In 2008 there were a total of 1,160 recorded aggravated robberies, of which 163 were firearm related and 223 used a stabbing or cutting weapon (source NZ statistics) which means that thousands of innocent members of the public and people at work have been affected by armed robberies in NZ. Not something that you’d readily associate with New Zealand’s ‘low crime’ image.
A while ago we wrote of how a senior bank manager expressed his concern that armed robberies had reached an historic level in New Zealand after 84 banks were held-up in the last calender year after increasing in number over the last three years.
Some think the rise is due mostly to increased levels of hardship caused by the recession. Or could it be that banks and small businesses are seen as nothing more than easy targets by thieves who have no fear of being caught because prison is a warm bed and three square meals a day?
For more read the Migrants’ Tale: NZ a more dangerous, more violent place – “Is NZ a failed nation?”
and a quote from Police Minister Judith Collins:
“In the 18 months that I have been police minister I have been shocked at the level of violent and anti-social behaviour in our society,” Ms Collins said.”
‘Sleepy’ little seaside town, Orewa, has just suffered its third armed robbery this year.
Of course there may have been more than this. We’re just going on the news reports and, as you know, not everything gets reported these days.
Creole’s Bar and Brasserie on the Hibiscus Coast highway (above) was robbed this morning by two masked men at around 9 o’clock. They held the four staff at gunpoint whilst taking cash from the premises (source)
Following the ASB heist there were three other similar robberies carried out in Browns Bay, Panmure, and Pakuranga. They were all at banking premises, where a man entered the premises and held up the staff.
Before that there was a hold up at the Westpac Bank in Westpac Plaza (see below) in Orewa in October of last year.
It’s possible that all the bank robberies could be linked, if so the sooner the police find the offenders the better for everyone concerned.
The alarming increase in violent and armed robberies is thought to have been caused by the recession and a weak over burdened penal system that is often perceived as being too lenient on offenders.
Wikipedia describes Orewa thus:
“Orewa, a town in the North Island of New Zealand lies on the Hibiscus Coast, 30 kilometres north of Auckland City, and close to the base of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. The population was 7,326 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 1,692 from 2001. It is a popular holiday destination. Orewa is also considered one of the fastest growing places in New Zealand and is one of the most expensive areas in which to buy a house.
Orewa lies on the east coast of the North Auckland Peninsula, within the Rodney District and lies adjacent to State Highway 1. The northern motorway passes just inland of Orewa and extends through the twin Johnston Hill tunnels to near Puhoi…
Orewa beach is one of the longest and safest beaches in Auckland. One of the more notable events on the beach is the Orewa Big Dig.”
See also: Armed Robberies
It’s been a busy period for the Armed Offenders Squad.
Three days ago there was an armed robbery of a pub in Point Chev that led to an AOS stand off in the residential area of Flatbush, 20kms away.
Then this morning they cordoned off roads and surrounded a house in Pakuranga Road, South Auckland. Witnesses said the police were negotiating with a person holed-up in a property. The incident is thought to have ended without injury or loss of life. See “Another dickhead on the lose in Panmure“
The day finished with call out to the North Shore suburb of Hllcrest, another quiet residential area:
“About 20 police officers including members of the armed offenders and dog squad were seen packing down and leaving from Coronation Rd at 4.10pm. Police earlier received a report about a man waving a rifle in the area around 2pm, detective Shane Page says.
The police Eagle helicopter and patrol cars surveyed the area and access to part of Coronation Rd and nearby Velma Rd and McFetridge Pl was blocked. Road blocks forced some students from surrounding schools to take a longer route home. Nearby Marlborough Primary and Sunnybrae Normal Schools were on lock down as a precaution until the end of the school day. “
Is there something in the water, or is this just the silly season for nutters with guns? There’s thought to be at least 1.1 legally owned million firearms in New Zealand so the odds are that something, or someone, is going to kick-off sooner or later.
Family row led to shots being fired from house - “A Pukehina Beach man at the centre of an armed police seige after he fired several gun shots has been sentenced to 100 hours’ community work and six months’ supervision. Shaun Albert Cockburn, 39, who earlier pleaded guilty to charges of discharging a firearm near a house was sentenced in Tauranga District Court yesterday.” 23 June 2010
Armed police called out in Southland – “An Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) call-out, an unprovoked assault which left a man unconscious, and an aggravated dairy robbery at knife point kept Invercargill police busy overnight. At 8.50pm police received a 111 call from Bluff, reporting that a man with a weapon was threatening to kill the two other people at a property — another man and a woman.” 10 June 2010
Police seek man after armed offenders called out - “Police say the AOS was sent out on Saturday morning to a rural property where it was thought there had been an altercation between a man and his nephew. They say the women who called them had fled the house saying she had fears for a young man after her partner had assaulted him and threatened him with a firearm.” 15 May 2010
Norsewood gunman puts lower North Island into lockdown – “Residents of the lower north island towns of Dannevirke, Ormondville and Takapau have been advised to stay inside, lock their doors and stay away from windows after a body was found in a car abandoned by a gunman on the run. Police closed State Highway 2 between Norsewood and Waipukurau while they hunted for the man who had also fired at police and shot at a farm worker, injuring him in the arm. The offender was described as a European, aged 46 and highly dangerous. He was later named as David John Bourke from Wanganui.” 5 October 2009
Armed sieges and gun politics in NZ – “An armed stand-off in Chaucer Road South, Napier that started yesterday morning continues into today. A routine cannabis bust went horribly wrong when the suspect, Jan Molenaar, shot dead policeman Len Snee, 53 and critically injured 3 other people yesterday in the small tourist town of Napier, famed for its art deco architecture. Len Snee was the fifth police officer to have been shot dead since the Aramoana massacre of 1990 and one of 29 officers to have died as a result of a criminal act in New Zealand.” 7 May 2009