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MTA Calls For More Government Funding To Prevent Aggravated Robberies

The Motor Trade Association is asking government to put more money into helping small service station operators protect themselves against armed robbers.

MTA Chief Executive Craig Pomare says around two thirds of the country’s service stations, like the Christchurch Challenge station robbed on Friday, are run by small independent or franchise operators who must pay for the security of their premises.

“Most armed robberies target cigarettes, and the number of these crimes has gone up dramatically as the tax on tobacco continues to rise. Improving security is extremely expensive, it can involve new doorways, grills, a different layout for the shop and so on.”

“The government has provided $1.8m in funding for [security fog devices] and we are grateful following calls from MTA that this was made available to service stations earlier this year. However, [security fog devices] are only suited to a limited number of situations, and this fund has now run dry. Small business operators need much more help to provide the type of security that will deter the levels of violence we are now seeing.”

Mr Pomare says there is a commonly acknowledged link between the high price of cigarettes and the growing number of aggravated robberies targeting tobacco. “The price is being driven by increasing taxes and we ask for part of the almost $2 billion received in tobacco tax be allocated to the security of people working in premises that sell the product.”

MTA said there were around 1200 service stations across New Zealand. Z Energy has undertaken an extensive hardening of its service stations as have other oil companies on the premises they own. However, 750, or two thirds of the country’s service stations are owned by individuals, small companies, franchises or small independent operators. “These small operators often provide a vital community service and have fairly narrow profit margins. They are quite simply unable to afford the level of security systems that is needed in towns and cities where aggravated robbery is a very real threat.”