Another Armed Robbery In Palmerston North

New Zealand’s violent crime epidemic continues with yesterday’s gun point robbery at a Palmerston North dairy (corner shop) by four youths in their mid to late teens. It follows Sunday’s robbery of a New Plymouth dairy by a gang of five teenagers and this morning’s Armed Offenders Squad call-out to a sighting of an armed man at a Gisborne shopping centre.

NZPA report said

Four masked men have robbed a Palmerston North dairy at gunpoint, threatening the owners and an elderly customer.

Police are today still searching for the men who burst into the Gloriana Dairy in the suburb of Highbury about 7.40pm last night, their faces covered with hoodies and clothing.

One of the men threatened the male and female shop owners, and an elderly woman who came into the shop, with a long-barrelled firearm.

They stole the cash register and a quantity of tobacco before fleeing and eluding a police cordon.

The offenders would not have got more than few hundred dollars in cash and a similar value of tobacco, said Detective Sergeant David Clifford.

The firearm has not yet been recovered. Police were trying to identify the offenders by going through security camera footage. They may have been in their mid- to late-teens, he said.

The Association of Community Retailers (ACR) today linked the robbery with the Government’s sudden hike in tobacco tax last week.

They don’t need to rob a bank for a mere $5000 when it’s easier to rob a dairy of double that amount of value in tobacco products,” said tobacco spokesman Richard Green.

Someone had also tried to break into his own Palmerston North Discount Tobacco business early on Sunday morning, he said.

A Ministry of Health proposal to outlaw tobacco displays would also make things worse for tobacco retailers, he said.

“It will be nothing for a couple of criminals to walk into my shop, close the door, assault me and steal my tobacco stock — all without being seen because my windows will have to be blacked out under the new rules.”

But regardless of the cost of tobacco, banks are still seen as easy targets.

This was evidenced by last week’s armed hold-ups of the Wespac Bank in Blockhouse Bay and the ASB Bank at Three Kings Plazza, at the end of April. They were latest in an epidemic of bank robberies that’s hit New Zealand in recent years.

During 2009 there were 84 Armed Robberies just in banks in New Zealand and hundreds  more in dairies, clubs, pharmacies, hairdressers, video shops and other premises.

Much of the increase in armed robbery  has been attributed to rising poverty levels in New Zealand, an increase in substance (drugs and alcohol) abuse and mental health problems.

Alcohol offences skyrocketed in Palmerston North during 2009, up from 87 to 409 on the previous year and the Salvation Army issued 1880 food parcels to more than 1130 Palmerston North families in the year to March.

For background you may wish to read:

Armed robberies reach historic level

Armed robbery and drugs, 80% or more smoke weed in Gisborne, 14 April 2010:

“The rise in violent crime in New Zealand continues unabated today with three more armed hold-ups. The first was at the Balance Street Village pharmacy in Gisborne at 8pm yesterday by a man with a handgun who escaped with a quantity of drugs. The second was at the BNZ bank on Ti Rakau Drive, Manukau where two security guards were robbed by two men wielding a shotgun at 9.50am, that was followed by a pistol wielding thug holding up a Palmerston North branch of Kiwi Bank at 4pm.

After a three year climb armed robberies reached a high in 2009. Armed robbery must be one of fastest growing occupations right now in a country where there are enough firearms for one in four of the population.

There were officially 84 armed hold-ups in NZ banks during 2009. See “Armed Robberies reach historic level

What’s causing this rise, could it be a massive increase in drug and alcohol abuse?

Drug and alcohol dependency are expensive habits to feed in New Zealand, substance abuse causes severe mental health problems that makes people to do irrational and dangerous  things (Look at the thug who bottled a grandmother in Tauranga on Sunday morning, hardly the behaviour of a rational person) unless something is done to curb it violent crime is going to continue its upward trajectory.

Here’s a look at what the residents of Gisborne think about their town’s drug problem and the effects it’s having on their once pleasant community. It may come a surprise to anyone thinking about emigrating to the town ‘looking for a better quality of life’ to find out that New Zealand has these issues and how widespread the problem is…more

Did you know:

There are currently 362 listings for rifles on the NZ online auction site TradeMe? Isn’t it time to curb the sale and ownership of firearms in New Zealand, it seems that everyone has one…except the police, see Police call for guns.