North Shore Vape store ransacked in 60 seconds on Auckland crime night. Video / Provided
A shopkeeper whose Auckland store was targeted overnight in the latest wave of ram raids said it was something he had expected – but was still awful to go through.
Vape2Go Birkenhead is one of six companies whose storefronts have been smashed and property stolen in a series of burglaries. He calls on the government to act immediately to end the continued pressure on their trade.
Security footage shows two people dressed in dark clothes and hoodies breaking into the store using hammers to smash the front door before ransacking cabinets containing thousands of dollars worth of goods in a raid of 60 seconds.
With little left of the double glass front door other than the heavy metal handles resting on the sidewalk, Ying Wang of Vape 2Go Birkenhead said it wasn’t a good situation.
“We are a franchise and many other stores have been affected so we knew one day it would hit us, but we didn’t expect it to be this widespread.
“Every store seems to be robbed. The government must help and protect us from this horrible situation.”
It was the second Vape2Go store to be vandalized in a week.
“We cannot rule out that our refusal to sell e-cigarettes to minors under the new policy has resulted in retaliation,” the store manager said.
Ōrākei’s Kepa Road Superette shopkeeper, Ritesh Patel, said he had installed bollards and an iron gate to protect his store, but violators were not deterred by them.
“It looks like they used a belt to remove the grille, tying one end to it and the other to their car, but they weren’t successful.
“They managed to slip through the gates and into the store. They must have been very young.”
Patel said it was a frustrating situation and he just got used to it.
“The law is ineffective. We can’t do anything else,” the exasperated shopkeeper said.
Neighbor Oliver Bakehouse was also robbed following the minimarket raid, with offenders smashing windows to get in.
Patel said the crate was stolen from the bakery.
Just after midnight, Liquorland Takanini was robbed, with empty cigarette drawers thrown outside the store.
Eyewitness Gurwinder Bajwa said he was walking home on Great South Rd from his gymnasium when he saw four teenagers breaking into the liquor store.
“I immediately parked my car in the next street and called 111. I saw four of the boys trying to enter the store, the alarm was very loud. I couldn’t see the license plate. registration of their car, as it was raining quite heavily, but it was a silver gray car.
“The incident lasted three minutes,” Bajwa said.
The car then drove in the opposite direction and police arrived at the scene shortly after, he said.
The store was recorded while officers worked inside, with a hammer left inside the store.
A police spokesman said just after midnight they received a report of a burglary at the Great South Road store.
“The store’s glass front was broken and a stolen Mazda Demio was nearby.”
Two teenagers aged 15 and 18 are said to appear in Manukau Juvenile Court today charged with unlawfully entering a motor vehicle.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more than 30 people were arrested and 200 charges laid after the police retail unit was set up targeting ram raids and smash and grabs.
She could not comment on the nature of the charges and the consequences and said it all depended on the individual offender.
“If someone is particularly young, particularly young, efforts are often made to use consequences and punishments that do not necessarily lead to that person being in institutions that, for example, result in their prosecution and often in cases , we know that’s the case, if a young person enters our formalized criminal justice system, it basically means that’s the trajectory they’re on,” Ardern told TVNZ.
“Prevention should also be about what we need to do to stop young people, for whatever reason, from getting into this business.”