New Zealand no more a safe place to live: Indian store owners

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New Zealand no more a safe place to live: Indian store owners

As incidents of crime and robbery continue unabated in New Zealand, distraught Indian retailers and small business owners say that they no longer feel safe in the country and “regret” coming here.
 

Wellington: As incidents of crime and robbery continue unabated in New Zealand, distraught Indian retailers and small business owners say that they no longer feel safe in the country and “regret” coming here.

According to police, multiple robberies have hit retail businesses in Auckland and Hamilton cities over the past 24 hours, including those of Indians.

In a latest incident of spiralling crime, Kanna Sharma’s GAS station on Kaurilands Road in Auckland was ram-raided by robbers for a third time in a row in the early hours of Thursday morning, a police statement said.

“This is the third time I’ve been ram-raided and I’m shattered. My family is shattered. It’s hard to believe a place like New Zealand can be such a nightmare,” a devastated Sharma, who left India 23 years ago, told Newshub.

Sharma said he thought New Zealand was one of the safest countries in the world, adding: “I was sadly mistaken. It is not. I regret coming here.”

Police said in a statement that “at 2.11 a.m., they responded to reports of the burglary on Kaurilands Road, where it is understood a vehicle was used to gain entry”.

According to security footage, a green car was seen ramming into the front door of the shop at least three times, shattering the glass and damaging the front grille in the process.

Sharma said the thieves stole cigarettes, vapes and many other products from his shop.

Close to the New Year, dairy owner Jayesh Patel’s store was targetted causing damage worth nearly $10,000.

Even though the offender has been caught, according to Patel, the incident has left him and his family scared and worried about the damage.

“He smashed through the door and stole some lollies. About $50 worth, and for what? It will cost about $10,000 to get a new strong door and replace and repair everything,” Patel told NZ Herald.

“They do this because they know there are no consequences for them. The law is really weak about this.”

The incident comes just days after four men entered Puneet Singh’s dairy store in Hamilton and cut off two fingers of his employee, Nabin, with a machete.

“It is very scary, when I open my shop, my parents in India are scared, they don’t sleep because of the time. When I open the shop it’s 2 a.m. in India and they keep texting me asking about my wellbeing,” Singh told NZ Herald.

Exactly a month before, Janak Patel, 34, was stabbed to death by robbers at Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham, Auckland, where he worked.

Following Janak’s death, New Zealand erupted in protests with people turning up in huge numbers shouting “enough is enough” and holding placards reading, “change the law”, in front of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s electoral office in Mt Albert.

The country announced new measures to counter retail crime, which included providing a NZ$4,000 subsidy to shop owners to install fog cannons in their shops to stop burglaries.

Sunny Kaushal, who leads the Dairy and Business Owners Group in New Zealand, said that many are angry and annoyed by “games this government is continuing to play and the lies they tell”, and “it’s time to stop”.

Indians make up 5 per cent of the New Zealand population.

According to a Ministry of External Affairs report, there are 240,000 Indians residing in New Zealand, out of which there are 1.6 lakh people of Indian origin and 80,000 NRIs.

According to New Zealand government statistics, there were close to 23 ram raids in the Northland region alone until November 20, 2022, the NZ Herald reported.


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