Business owner wants pepper spray to deal with robbers

Business owner wants pepper spray to deal with robbers

A small business owner based in south Auckland is appealing for a law change to allow him and others like him, to use pepper spray during violent robberies.

Statistics New Zealand and police data has shown the Papatoetoe suburb to be a hot spot for targeted robberies, with its central area recording four times the national average of incidents over 2015.

The liquor store owner, who doesn't want to be named, has been at the centre of a violent robbery before -- in which he and his elderly father were attacked with bottles of alcohol.

"If that bottle had hit me or my dad in the wrong place, it would be a different story and I wouldn't be standing here in front of you today."

His father ended up fending the offenders off with a hockey stick -- but the man says if the Government allowed for pepper spray, it may prevent situations from ever escalating to that point.

"I want to keep these guys away from me -- I don't want them to come closer to me."

"The guy who attacked me with the bottle, if I had a pepper spray then I would have sprayed him and that would have been the end of it."

Labour's justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern agrees something needs to be done, but says things shouldn't have to be at the point where small business owners feel the need to arm themselves.

"If you own and operate a business, you shouldn't have to live in constant fear, and yet, there is certainly an environment of fear out there right now."

"The thing that we would like to see is much greater focus on the policing responses to those callouts and we need a police force that are equipped and supported by their minister to do their job."

But not only that, the business owner Newshub spoke to says the penalties for those who commit these crimes also need to be harsher.

"The laws are too soft for these guys, but then the laws are too strict for us."

He says the assailants believe they won't truly be held accountable for their acts and thus the cycle of violent robberies continues to flourish.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said she wouldn't comment as it was a matter for police.