Metal store

Auckland raiders head to the jewelry store

From ram raids to smashes and foreclosures, the wild weather is pounding the South and the Bill wants to see go up in smoke in the latest New Zealand Herald headlines. Video / NZ Herald

The young ram raiders who have plagued Auckland businesses are now promoting break-ins and foreclosures at jewelery stores, with at least two happening in the city every week.

Police are stepping up patrols around hotspots in the city, but say the nature of the crime means considerable work is needed to locate and deal with the behavior of offenders.

The recent surge is said to have shaken confidence in the retail sector, prompting more business owners to offer health and safety training courses to their staff.

Police Minister Chris Hipkins has been briefed on what officers are doing to target repeat offenders and cited what he sees as a “good success rate” in holding them to account.

Michael Hill Jewelers has been the target of about half of the reported cases in recent weeks.  Photo / Hayden Woodward
Michael Hill Jewelers has been the target of about half of the reported cases in recent weeks. Photo / Hayden Woodward

However, National Party police spokesman Mark Mitchell believes repeat offenders are being released lightly because of their age and the focus should be on protecting law-abiding citizens.

The NZ Herald has reported numerous brazen and aggravated robberies and burglaries hitting Auckland jewelers, with Michael Hill Jewelers a common target.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Auckland Detective Inspector Scott Beard said at least 12 smash-and-grabs occurred across Tāmaki Makaurau in the six-week period from late May to mid-July.

He noted that Michael Hill had been targeted in about half of those incidents.

Beard also revealed that police believe the perpetrators of these crimes were largely the same people behind a major spike in ram raids earlier this year.

Violators are often armed with pliers, hammers or other metal bars to break the glass.  Photo / Hayden Woodward
Violators are often armed with pliers, hammers or other metal bars to break the glass. Photo / Hayden Woodward

“It would appear that we are talking about the same group of offenders and they have just moved on to aggravated burglaries where they enter, for example, Michael Hill Jewelers, smashing windows, seizing jewelry and carrying off,” he said. declared.

“I think a lot of it is about notoriety, bravado among their friends and their group, but there’s also this opportunity to sell or get money from jewelry or wear it themselves- same.”

The offenders were generally between the ages of 12 and 20, often equipped with hammers, tongs or other metal bars.

They regularly targeted stores around closing time, when there were probably fewer customers.

The stolen goods were then either sold online, sold to a second-hand dealer, distributed by groups of friends or carried by the offenders themselves.

It was an issue faced by all three Auckland police districts, Beard said.

He said it was common for police to find the getaway vehicle, sometimes recovering stolen jewelry the offenders had left behind in their haste.

However, he could not indicate the proportion of offenders found after the fact, but he was aware of the search warrants executed last week.

Auckland Detective Inspector Scott Beard has warned staff members against contact with offenders.  Photo/Alex Burton
Auckland Detective Inspector Scott Beard has warned staff members against contact with offenders. Photo/Alex Burton

While the offenders themselves were sometimes not known to police, Beard said they were often linked to families who were, which helped track them down.

In response to the recent spike, police patrols at shopping malls and other hotspots around closing time have been stepped up.

Police were also urging retailers, including Michael Hill, to implement preventative measures.

Since many of the offenders were masked, Beard said it took an extensive forensic investigation to establish who committed the crime.

However, Beard hoped that with the help of the police Youth Aid Team and district-wide coordination, the frequency of smash-and-grabs would decrease as it did for ram raids.

A person was filmed stealing from a West Auckland Michael Hill Jewelers store last week.  Photo / Provided
A person was filmed stealing from a West Auckland Michael Hill Jewelers store last week. Photo / Provided

He advised any business owners who witnessed suspicious activity to close their stores early and if affected, not to engage with offenders.

“This is property only, don’t let your staff get involved or be assaulted in any way.”

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the surge had shaken confidence in the sector, particularly for jewellers.

“The jewelers we speak to are certainly concerned about the safety of their staff and their customers.

“It’s just a really terrible thing if they’re redone in the current climate.”

He noted that more companies have reviewed their security arrangements and signed up for health and safety courses for their staff.

Harford felt a central government campaign was needed to target the notoriety that such incidents gave offenders on social media.

Police Minister Chris Hipkins.  Photo/Mark Mitchell
Police Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo/Mark Mitchell

In a statement, Hipkins said he was encouraged by the approximately 150 arrests and 750 charges that had occurred since February in connection with ram raids.

“Police are focusing their investigative efforts on the recent spike in retail crime, including ram raids, and have a good success rate in bringing offenders to account for these offences.”

Mark Mitchell of the National Party told the Herald he felt the penalties for repeat offenders were not enough.

“The priority is that the law-abiding members of our society are protected and although we don’t all like prisons, the fact is that if someone continues to offend and they are violent, then the safest place for them and the community is in prison.”

Attempts to contact Michael Hill for comment were unsuccessful.