Poto Williams’s announcement on the high-level Govt support plan to thwart ram raiders. Video / NZ Herald
A young man has been charged with a ram raid crime spree in recent months that damaged a jewellery store and two mobile phone shops in nearby South Auckland shopping malls.
The 22-year-old Ōtara resident is set to appear at Manukau District Court tomorrow on seven charges, including the alleged targeting of Ormiston Town Centre in April and Botany Town Centre in May.
He was also charged on Friday with driving a vehicle on East Tāmaki Rd despite being disqualified from having a driver’s licence.
Authorities allege the man and a 20-year-old co-defendant used a stolen $5000 Mazda Demio on Friday, April 8, as they entered Ormiston Town Centre in Flat Bush without authority and burglarised Christies Jewellery.
The 20-year-old is set to appear at Manukau District Court next week.
If convicted, they could each face up to 10 years’ prison for the two burglary charges and up to seven years’ prison for the unauthorised use of a vehicle charge.
The alleged heists happened just weeks before the same shopping centre was targeted in a brazen, large-scale ram raid involving three vehicles and at least a dozen young people.
Shocking security footage of the April 26 raid showed the cars hooning through the mall at about 1.10am, putting cleaners in danger and causing a security guard to have to jump out of the way. Empty iPad and microwave oven boxes were seen strewn outside the shopping centre’s Noel Leeming store the next morning.
“It’s quite scary,” said Christies owner Purvi Killa after the April 26 incident. “We were all shocked.”
Killa noted that the ram raid just weeks earlier had resulted in thousands of dollars worth of merchandise being stolen from the business.
The 22-year-old set to appear in court tomorrow also faces allegations he burglarised “with persons unknown” a 2Degrees store and a Vodafone store at Botany Town Centre in East Tāmaki on Monday, May 2.
Those ram raids were allegedly committed using a stolen Mazda Atenza, valued at $9000, which had gone missing from Botany Downs.
Ormiston Town Centre and Botany Town Centre are located approximately five kilometres apart.
If convicted of those heists, he could face up to 10 years in prison for each business and up to seven years for driving a stolen vehicle.
A spate of ram raids across Auckland in recent months has garnered widespread attention, including responses from Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and Police Minister Poto Williams.
“The people who are involved in these ram raids, many of them are under 15,” Coster said last week. “We need to look seriously at why these kids are not productively engaged.”
The Government, meanwhile, has earmarked an additional $6 million to help small businesses protect themselves from ram raids with measures such as installing bollards.
“While there has been a significant reduction in youth offending over the past decade, there has also been a recent spike in ram raids and related offending which we urgently need to address for these business owners,” Williams said of the expenditure.
“This funding will enable police to work closely with vulnerable small retailers to identify effective and practical solutions based on the particular features of each location.”
The money will come from the Proceeds of Crime Fund, which accumulates money and assets seized as the result of criminal prosecutions.