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Ram raids crush retailers’ confidence and income



Police reveal the numbers related to ram raids in two data sets (Photo supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 31, 2023

Retail crime costs New Zealand retailers $1 billion each year and has a significant personal impact on those working in the industry. This year has seen a spike in ram raid-style burglaries and this has affected small local retailers and larger chains.

Police recognise the impact of retail crime on business owners and staff and take reports of ram raids very seriously. Responses are normally District managed and included significant investigative action to identify and hold those responsible to account. Police have also been actively working alongside retailers and retail communities to give them prevention advice and support.

A strengthened multi-agency response is also being trialled in parts of Auckland to address the underlying factors that lead to young people engaging in risky behaviour and offending.

The government has also allocated $6 million from the Proceeds of Crime Fund for a crime prevention programme managed by the Police, including solutions such as installing bollards or other security for small retailers. This funding will enable Police to work closely with particularly vulnerable small retailers to identify effective and practical solutions based on the particular features of each business and location.

Graphs (Supplied by Police)

What the numbers say

Police have now released specific data sets under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) As far as ram raids over the past 12 months are concerned, there was a more than 500 per cent increase in ram raids occurring compared to previous years, causing tension, particularly in Auckland and Waikato.

Out of the police districts, Waikato had the most number of ram-raids over the two years and two months released, followed by Auckland, then Counties Manukau. The data showed there were far more ram raids on the North Island, with the most significant number of ram raids on the South Island occurring in Canterbury (47).

The next set of data was created to be able to report against questions regarding historic and current volumes of ram raids and to compare against other crime types. It initially included only retail ram-raids but in January 2023 was retrospectively widened to include both retail and commercial ram-raid data.

The data confirms that youths are dominating the ram-raid scene, with youth offenders largely outweighing adults.

The youth/adult breakdown for ram-raids shows a large increase in the number of youth offenders from around mid-2021, as the number of ram-raids grows. In line with the increase in youth offenders is an increase in youth referrals made to ram-raid offenders. The data shows a rise in this type of enforcement action from 2021.

It also found that the most common property type targeted by ram raiders was shops, followed by commercial properties. The data also reflected an increase in retail crimes across the spectrum, including, shoplifting for goods priced less than $500 as well as goods valued from $500-$1000, Wilful Trespass, and theft among others.

Assistant Commissioner Bruce O’Brien said that given a ‘ram raid’ does not have its own offence code, it makes automatic collation of the data for statistics challenging.

“When you are trying to measure something specific you do not have a category for, it is always going to be harder and more complex. However, we have come up with two solutions and they both work for their specific purposes.”

He said, “Our focus is on having information that will support our people to do their jobs – preventing crime and holding offenders to account. I am confident the data we have is supporting our people to do that.”

“At the same time, it is important to recognise that the Police alone cannot solve some of the complex societal issues at play. We are committed to working with our partners and communities as we know we do not hold all the answers,” said Assistant Commissioner O’Brien.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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