Violence worsening in robberies - liquor store owner

Violence worsening in robberies - liquor store owner

The owner of an Auckland liquor store robbed three times in as many weeks says the level of violence has been getting worse.

Legends Liquor on Duke St in Three Kings was hit by four youths on Saturday night, one of which was carrying a plank of wood as a weapon.

Two staff in the store were injured and were hospitalised after one was bottled in the back of the head and another injured by the wood around his eye and knee.

Store owner Jeff Wu says the manager had a few friends in the shop and was having a conversation with them shortly before closing time.

The group waited until they'd left before entering the shop.

"Two guys were chasing the manager and the other two were chasing the staff from both sides of the counter - they didn't talk, they just kept smashing."

He says the level of violence this year had stepped up.

"This time, this year, this is murder. This is not robbery.

"They made a plan, 'I will use this stake to knock him down'. If you leave your life to a 14, 15, 16-year -old, who knows what is going to happen next - is he going to knock me down? Or is he going to kill me?"

Mr Wu says he believed crime was increasing. Official data from Statistics New Zealand which shows in a one square kilometre area of Auckland central west - bordered by Queen St - there were 550 victims of assaults, sexual attacks and robberies in 2015. That's six-and-a-half times the national average.

However, Police Minister Judith Collins says long-term crime rates are down, and the Government is on track to meeting its target of 20 percent less crime by 2018.

But Mr Wu, who knows many people who work in dairies and liquor stores, says many robberies will go unreported because shop owners think it is too much hassle.

"They don't report to the police, because what happens is if you call the police? The police will come and they will shut the door and stop you trading for half a day and you lose all your sales and all you lost was a bottle of beer."

He says they'd only call police if something serious happens - like the latest robbery at his store which he believes is partly motivated by the increase in cigarette prices.

The Government has been increasing the price of cigarettes by 10 percent each year since 2012. This year's Budget continued that increase for the next four years. That'll bring the price of a standard pack of 20 cigarettes to about $30 by 2020.

Mr Wu also believed the punishment for robberies wasn't tough enough, particularly for young offenders.

Police are investigating.