By Dave Hooker, Executive Director, NZACS 

The incidents of aggravated robberies in dairies and service stations in the last 18 months continues to escalate at an alarming rate.

Safety has always been a cornerstone of the fuel industry and now security is equally concerning. NZACS was invited to join a Joint crime prevention meeting convened by the NZ police in Wellington this month.

A few of the key points are highlighted below

  • Dairies are being hit at rate of around 2:1 versus fuel locations.
  • 38% apprehension /Prosecution rate with about 40% being put through the youth justice system.
  • Penalties and potential prosecution do little to deter many youth offenders.
  • Dairies are beginning to fight back against all recommendations.

Three main areas of focus are

  1. Safe & secure – internal areas for staff and protection measures
  2. Frustrate entry – external protection measures
  3. Minimise the prize – availability of cash and tobacco

Government reaction

Government has announced a $1.8M fund for high risk retailers to access in order to subsidise preventative measures to increase security.

On the surface this looks like a positive move however government collects $1.6B -$1.8B each year in tobacco excise. This is increasing each year and will exceed $2B by 2020.

So $1.8M equals 0.1% of tobacco excise which is rising at a rate of 10% per year. If you divided this evenly amongst in excess of 5000 outlet selling tobacco this equates to a bit over $300 each.

More realistically if you identified 500 higher risk outlets this equates to $3,600 each. This is starting to sound generous other than the fact that the small business owner is still required to contribute their part of the investment and that a complete security makeover can cost as much as $70,000.

On a more positive note Police are engaging more with the industry around this matter and we have recently seen a case of a multiple offender who received a 6 year sentenced appealed by the crown and increase to over 7 years.

According to a Newshub article by Lucy Warhust published on May 21st this year

The ACT Party is calling for the Government to use tobacco tax to pay for better security for dairy owners.”

Party leader David Seymour says installing single cigarette pack dispensers would help tackle the "epidemic of violent robberies".

Mr Seymour says tax increases on tobacco have made cigarettes a target for thieves, and dairy owners are paying the price.

He wants the Government to give back tobacco tax to dairies so they can pay for single pack dispensers which stop robbers grabbing them in bulk.

"If we're going to make them collect an extra $20,000 worth of extra tax and put them in further harm next year, I think we should give them a year off, let them keep that tax and invest in technology to keep themselves safe," he said.

There have been around 40 attacks on dairies in the past month.

The New Zealand Association of Convenience stores will continue to work with retailers, manufacturers, police and government in order to better protect and provide advice to retailers however it is a far more complex issue than to “just stop selling tobacco”.

Interested in learning more about or joining NZACS go to

Photo credit: