Police Minister wants shop owners to nark on gangs

Has a heavily-tattooed gang member just bought a large TV, with cash, from your shop? Stuart Nash wants to know.

In a crackdown on money-laundering and gang activity, the Police Minister is appealing to Hawke's Bay retailers to report when gang members buy big-ticket items with cash.

"We also need members to call and report any suspicious activity," he told NZME.

"Don't just look the other way or take a 'see-no-evil' approach. Only by working as a community can we reclaim our communities."

In April 2018 there were 5785 identified gang members and prospects across New Zealand, according to data released to RNZ. The largest gang is the Mongrel Mob, while Black Power is the second-largest.

Much of their money is made through illegal activity, including drug-dealing.

Napier Area commander Inspector Dave Greig says the Mongrel Mob is responsible for the supply of almost all of the synthetics in his area.

"Those at the top are mostly making most of the money," he says.

This money is often laundered through the purchase of high-end sports cars, electronic equipment and jewellery.

But Hastings Business Association chairman Craig Riddiford has his doubts Nash's scheme will work.

"I doubt people would turn down a sale because someone refused to tell them what their name was," he told NZME.

"Gangs are a big problem, but it is putting more compliance on small business owners that are already doing a lot of compliance for the Government."

In response to regional mayors' concerns about violence and drug-dealing, police are setting up a Gang Focus police unit in the Hawke's Bay.

"We are working with a number of local community groups, including the council, to ensure the public is safe, and feels safe," Hawke's Bay's Acting Area Commander Inspector Jeanette Park told Stuff.