An additional $11 million is being injected into the Government’s fog cannon subsidy fund after a very high uptake by small businesses.
Police and Small Business Minister Ginny Andersen said on Monday that 582 fog cannon installations have taken place and 1664 applications have been approved so far under the scheme, showing it to be “incredibly popular”.
Applications opened in February for the $4000 subsidy and Andersen said the number of daily applications have been “significntly increasing since April”.
There’s no requirement for businesses to have been a victim of a ram raid to qualify, but they must have street frontage, five or fewer staff, and no more than two outlets.
“I’ve seen first-hand the difference fog cannons are making. Not only do they help prevent crime, but they also give retailers peace of mind,” Andersen said.
The minister said the $11 million expansion would give eligible retailers across New Zealand the certainty that they get a fog cannon if they need one. She said for some small business owners, the cost of a fog cannon is beyond their budget.
“We need to tackle the problem at both ends and ensure we are stopping retail crime in the first place. We’ve expanded a circuit breaker programme targeting recidivist child offenders into Hamilton, Christchurch and Auckland City and are making excellent progress on our goal to achieve 1800 more police officers on the front line.
“Fog cannons can help deter ram raids and burglary and reduce the risk of people being harmed. The dense cloud of fog is highly disorienting and prevents attackers from targeting cash, stock, or workers.”
Last week, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said business owners “have reason” to be “fearful” given the level of retail crime offending.
“They have reason to be because I think we’ve all seen the news and we’ve all seen what’s happening there. We do have to do more in that space.”
He said it was “undeniable we are experiencing a spike in retail offending”.
“It isn’t acceptable and it is not acceptable behaviour and it is also not acceptable from the victim’s perspective.”
That came after a west Auckland post shop owner this week announced she is closing her store after being repeatedly targeted by thieves.
Police data from April shows there were 51 ram raids in March, up from 41 in February.
The number of ram raids in March was down on the number being recorded monthly for most of 2022, but well above that being recorded pre-pandemic.
Retail crime isn’t just limited to ram raids. Data released by National in March showed retail crime had increased by 39 percent over the year prior.
Other police data shows the number of burglaries and thefts committed nationally between April 2022 and March 2023 was well up on the year prior, though that isn’t limited to retail offending.
The Government’s taken several steps to try and address retail crime, including with its scheme to subsidise stores to install bollards, fog cannons and other security measures.