Sandringham stabbing: Dozens gather outside PM Jacinda Ardern's office to protest, dairies close as new crime package revealed

Protesters have gathered outside the Prime Minister's office on Monday as dairies across the country closed in protest after a worker was fatally stabbed last week. 

Janak Patel was stabbed in the street after following a man who allegedly took the cash register drawer from Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham in Auckland on Wednesday night.

Patel's death has shocked the tight-knit community and sparked calls for the Government to do more to crack down on crime. His father has delivered an emotional message which can be viewed in the video below.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken about new crime prevention measures at her press conference.

What you need to know:

  • Dairies across the country closed from 12:30pm to 2:30pm
  • Janak Patel was fatally stabbed near Rose Cottage Superette last week
  • Patel's father, who joined protesters outside Jacinda Ardern's office, called on the Government to take action.
  • Prime Minister Ardern has provided an update on crime prevention measures at her post-Cabinet press conference.

These live updates have finished.

3:55pm - Here is a table provided by the Prime Minister's Office highlighting the number of ram raids that have occurred this year:

Sandringham stabbing: Dozens gather outside PM Jacinda Ardern's office to protest, dairies close as new crime package revealed
Photo credit: PMO.

3:50pm - Ardern said a fog cannon scheme which operated under the former Government had very narrow eligibility and required stores to be a repeat victim of crime. 

She said the store where a worker died last week had previously had an aggravated robbery in 2016.

The fog cannon scheme under the current Government is more expansive, she said, and stores can access it regardless of whether they have experienced crime.

3:45pm - The key points of the new crime package announcement:

  • $4000 for small shops and dairies to access a fog cannon from an approved supplier. Details to be released shortly
  • $4 million to local councils to fund crime prevention measures - $2 million for Auckland Council, $1 million for Hamilton Council, $1 million for councils in Bay of Plenty. This will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the councils
  • The $6 million Retail Crime Prevention Fund will be extended to aggravated robbery, not just ram raids

3:35pm - Full announcement from Prime Minister Ardern and Police Minister Hipkins:

The Government has today announced a significantly extended package of measures to combat retail crime, with new initiatives to partner with small businesses and local councils.

"While youth crime is now much lower than in the past, the risks and harm from ram raids and other retail crime is concerning communities and creating victims," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"Shop owners and workers feel targeted. That's unacceptable.

"Police are having a noticeable impact on offending rates, with ram raids during November down by 83% compared with August – 13 so far this month against a high of 75 in August. But we need to lock that progress in and sustain it. 

"The initiatives we're announcing today make this the most significant crime prevention financial package in recent memory. 

"It backs up Police actions, through funding to support crime prevention initiatives, such as better street lighting and cameras and by investing in more fog cannons."

Fog cannon subsidy scheme

The Government will establish a new fog cannon subsidy scheme open to all small shops and dairies in New Zealand who want a fog cannon installed.

"Funding of $4000 will be available for each shop who will be able to have the fog cannon installed through an approved supplier, meaning they can access them directly without an onerous process. Additional details will be released shortly," Jacinda Ardern said. 

Police Minister Chris Hipkins said this will be the first time the fog cannon and ram raid funds have operated at the same time.

"Despite global supply chain issues, Police has been successful in ordering an extra 455 fog cannons, which are expected to arrive before Christmas. This adds to the 270 fog cannons that are currently in the country and have been allocated to affected shops," Chris Hipkins said.

"More challenging will be the time it takes to install them. The 1000 fog cannons that are already installed took four years, and despite Police doubling the number of local contractors that will do the work to six, it's expected it will take till the second quarter of next year for the number of installations to start to ramp up."     

The fog cannon fund was set up in 2017 after aggravated robberies of commercial premises had doubled from 2015 – from 599 to 1170.

"It was expanded in 2018 and 2019, and 1000 fog cannon were installed by the end of 2021.

Local crime prevention boost

"New funding of $4 million will be made available to local council to assist with crime prevention measures.  This will be made up of $2 million for Auckland Council, $1 million for Hamilton Council and $1 million for the councils in the Bay of Plenty to match on a dollar for dollar basis by Councils for local crime prevention measures.

"These partnerships are likely to be focused on Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) measures in geographic areas where small retailers are commonly targeted, such as street lighting, CCTV cameras and planters.

"Conversations have been had already between Police and government officials and Auckland Council, Hamilton Council and Bay of Plenty Councils to identify opportunities that can get started soon.

"We're also announcing today that we will make funding available for all small shops and diaries to install fog cannons, adding to the 1000 that have already been installed as part of the fog cannon initiative.  

Extension of the Retail Crime Prevention Fund

"The $6 million Retail Crime Prevention Fund was set up for small shops and dairies in early 2022 as offending shifted to ram raiding. Today, we're expanding eligibility to aggravated robbery committed over the last year.

"Police are making progress on the number of stores accessing the fund. More than 100 shops now have installations approved, with 431 security measures allocated and underway. This includes 93 fog cannons, 78 security sirens, 57 alarms, 63 CCTV systems, 43 bollards and 36 roller doors.

"We'll also continue our work with repeat offenders and their families."

3:30pm - The Prime Minister has arrived. She says Cabinet has discussed the "horrific homicide" in Sandringham last week. She thanks police for their investigation and apprehension of people allegedly involved with the robbery and homicide.

Ardern says the Government needs to do all it cans to protect shop workers.

The Government has previously implemented a scheme to roll out more than 1000 fog cannons in stores as well as a $6 million fund in May to provide protective infrastructure, like bollards, to shops at risk of ram raids.

Ram raids are trending down, Ardern says. However, Cabinet has now signed off a new package aimed at tackling retail crime.

3:10pm - We've just been advised the press conference has been delayed to 3:30pm. 

3:05pm - We are now awaiting the Prime Minister. She's expected to arrive in the next 10 minutes. You can watch the livestream above.

3pm - The crowds have now dispersed at the Prime Minister's electorate office.

Newshub understands a second protest is being organised for Queen St this Sunday. Organisers are hoping to attract thousands of protestors to central Auckland.

2:35pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will host her post-Cabinet press conference at 3:15pm. She's expected to address crime prevention measures. Newshub will livestream that press conference.

2:26pm - The protest briefly got heated when two men got into an argument with one yelling, "this is wrong, you have divided us today" and "shame on you". It's unclear what the confrontation was about.

2:07pm - A Givealittle page for Janak's family has raised $75,825. 

2:05pm - The crowds are still blocking the road and chanting, "We want justice". 

2:03pm - Two men accused of robbery, in relation to the death of Sandringham diary worker, Janak Patel, appeared in the Auckland District Court on Monday morning.  The pair were remanded in custody until December.

1:54pm - An officer at the protest said the crowds have been peaceful and well-behaved. He said at one point they blocked the road but have agreed to move on.

1:51pm - Auckland mayor Wayne Brown is at the protest outside Ardern's office. Brown said he went along to show his support.

He said many of the businesses in Auckland are owned by immigrants and they're "under attack". 

He said Chinese and Indian business owners are an important part of the community and need to be protected

1:47pm - Police are negotiating with protesters who have agreed to move to allow traffic to pass. 

1:32pm - Some protestors are demanding someone from Ardern's office receive them. Emotions are high and they are refusing to clear the road. Police officers can be seen speaking with organisers who are yelling, "We had to come here". 

Protesters are refusing to clear the road.
Protesters are refusing to clear the road. Photo credit: Newshub

1:30pm - The crowds can be heard yelling, "We want justice" and "change the law" repeatedly. 

1:29pm - Sandringham business owners have gathered across the road. Every business in the village, aside from the pharmacy, has closed for the protest.

1:26pm - The protesters are now covering New North Road and one man is sitting in the middle of the road. 

A protester is sitting in the middle of New North Road.
A protester is sitting in the middle of New North Road. Photo credit: Newshub

1:25pm - The protesters are repeatedly chanting, "Enough is enough". 

1:19pm - Janak Patel's father, who joined protesters outside Ardern's office, called on the Government to take action.

"We live in a civilised country. Let us be a bit more disciplined and respectful to law and order," he said through a translator.

"If the Government is not listening, they should listen and they should act accordingly. Regardless of the age of the person who commits the crime, the punishment should be harsher so people can go on with their work," he said.

Through tears, Patel's father begged the Government to ensure the people responsible for his son's death receive the harshest possible punishment.

He added he doesn't want another person to lose their life.

"This has to be a turning point, it doesn't matter whether you sit in Parliament, whether you sit at home or in a dairy, we are all citizens of this country and we are all responsible for this country," he added.

1:12pm - The crowds are calling for harsher penalties for people who commit retail crimes. But this morning Jacinda Ardern told AM there are already sufficient punishments in place. Ardern said young people charged with a crime that carry a sentence of 14 years, such as aggravated robbery, can already be punished through the youth courts. 

1:07pm - The crowds in Wellington held a minute's silence outside Robertson's electorate office to honour Janak Patel. 

1:02pm - A large crowd of protesters has gathered outside Finance Minister Grant Robertson's office in Wellington. They are holding signs calling for action. 

A crowd of protesters gather outside Grant Robertson's office.
A crowd of protesters gather outside Grant Robertson's office. Photo credit: Newshub
A crowd of protesters gather outside Grant Robertson's office.
A crowd of protesters gather outside Grant Robertson's office. Photo credit: Newshub

12:59pm - About 100 protesters are gathered outside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office. They are holding signs reading, "Enough is enough. We want action now".

Protesters gather outside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office.
Protesters gather outside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office. Photo credit: Newshub
Protesters gather outside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office.
Protesters gather outside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office. Photo credit: Newshub