Auto industry warns fuel stations heading for 'USA-style crime hell' after shocking daylight Auckland robbery

The Motor Trade Association (MTA) has hit out at the Government and called on them to back up its tough crime talk with action after a shocking daylight robbery at an Auckland service station.  

The robbery at Caltex Western Springs on Great North Road occurred at 7:18am on Sunday morning and saw nine offenders leave a staff member completely rattled. 

A staff member who was working at the time of the robbery deployed a fog cannon before being threatened by a hammer-wielding offender who came into the back room where he hid. 

The MTA released a statement following the robbery titled "Fuel stations heading for USA-style crime hell".  

Robberies at service stations occurred regularly throughout 2023 and MTA chief executive Lee Marshall said the risk of an attack is an everyday reality for many.   

"We're relieved that no one was hurt in this terrifying incident. Sadly, this sort of robbery is too common an occurrence on fuel station owners," Marshall said.  

"At this rate, we're headed for the kind of hell you see in Florida where gas station operators need to hide behind inch-thick steel bars for protection.  We seriously need to ask ourselves if that's a future we want." 

Marshall said most local gas stations are small, locally owned and operated franchises and the pain of repeated robberies takes a toll not only on the business financially but also on the physical and mental health of workers. 

He's called on the Government to front up and back up their tough crime talk and show action.  

"The Government has talked tough on tackling crime, but we now need some action, and there are some small practical steps that can be quickly enacted," he said.  

One step Marshall pointed to was allowing capital expenditure for crime protective or preventative measures to be 100 percent tax deductible in the year in which the cost is incurred. 

MTA has previously called for this when the old Labour Government was in power.  

"The previous Government picked up our call to include small service stations in the fog cannon subsidy," Marshall said.  

"They didn't consider the tax break option - the challenge is there for this Government to pick it up."  

A recent survey of MTA fuel station members showed crime was overwhelmingly the biggest concern they faced.  

In the meantime, Marshall said businesses like service stations will remain at risk until the Government backs up the rhetoric on crime with strong action. 

Owner and operator of 11 Caltex stations, including the one that was targeted on Sunday, Sanjai Bagia said the "trends are worsening" and he fears for the safety of retail businesses. 

Bagia told Newshub the daylight robbery included offenders who "looked like they were mostly teenagers".  

"We were surprised because it's a trend where normally these attacks happen at night, but this is obviously something new. Nine offenders seem like such a high number of offenders at one time who come to do this," he said.  

"Staff followed procedures and the fog cannons were activated, distracting the robbers, who ended up only taking $200 from the register." 

Police told Newshub on Monday no arrests have been made and the investigation remains ongoing.