New data reveals retail crime has exploded but punishments have plummeted

Sunday night saw another crime spree across Christchurch as the Government struggles to get a handle on the ram raid epidemic. 

It announced on Monday a new youth and gang crime crackdown to try to bring it under control. 

A new aggravating factor will be created for those who use youths to commit a crime, posting footage of crimes like ram raids online will become an aggravating factor in sentencing, and young offenders will be required to attend education programmes or do community activities.

The Government is also beefing up police prosecution resources with funding for 78 more prosecutors.

Sukjinder Singh's dairy is just one of seven burglaries in three hours in Christchurch on Sunday night, three of which were with cars. 

Security footage shows a car slowly reversing before flooring it into the door, the offenders leave the car to roll away, running in to grab the goods.

Singh is sick of it.

"There's too much going on… Enough. It's happening every day. Even in daylight."

He wants tougher punishments and on Monday the Government answered, ramping up its ram raid response.

"Kiwis have had a gutsful of people acting as if the rules don't apply to them and I have had a gutsful of that as well," said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. "The system needs a shake-up."

The Government will introduce a new aggravating factor for an adult to use young people to commit a crime. 

"Using a child to commit a crime is cowardly, exploitative and it destroys lives," said Hipkins. 

The Government is also recognising people are not being prosecuted enough, pledging $26 million for more police prosecutors. 

Asked if there were enough people being prosecuted for retail crime, Hipkins said: "There's certainly an ability for the police to increase that with the extra police prosecutors that we're funding".

Figures provided exclusively to Newshub show over the past five years the number of retail crimes has exploded but punishments have plummeted.

In 2018, there were 52,000 retail crime incidents reported to police with 7011 convictions. 

Last year the number of reported incidents more than doubled to 106,000 but convictions actually fell to just 6424, a drop of 8 percent.

"That doesn't make any sense," said National leader Christopher Luxon.

"The Government has been soft on crime and that's why we've got crime out of control here in New Zealand."

Hipkins said he is "not going to rest until we actually see this problem tackled".

"We have been working on it, we haven't fully tackled it yet."

Tackling tech too, making filming and posting your crime online an aggravating factor in sentencing.

"What we want to do is stop these young people doing this offending for the purposes of notoriety," said Hipkins. 

Perhaps raiding the National Party policy pot for that idea - it has an identical policy.

"We had been working on that for sometime before they announced it. It is coincidence maybe," said Hipkins. 

But Luxon said New Zealanders are not feeling safe.

"The Government needs to do a lot, lot more."

Hipkins is calling on the social media giants for help stopping viral ram raid videos.

"We will reach out to the social media companies as well to look at whether there is more that they can do," he said at his press conference.

Hipkins said he didn't just make that up on the fly.

"We have had several conservations about that." 

His message to ram raiders is that there will be consequences because everyone's had a gutful.

And if he doesn't act, he may face the electoral consequences. 

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