Shop owners take a stand

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014
Sandringham Shops
STAND TOGETHER: Restaurant owner Azeem Mohammed, Constable Alex Taua, restaurant owner Gaurang Ambani and Avon Lines from Neighbourhood Support want to put a stop to the problems plaguing the Sandringham shops. Mr Taua covers Sandringham for the Mt Roskill Community Policing Team.

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Shopkeepers fed-up with being hassled by troublemakers are taking a united stand.

Sandringham store and restaurant owners met with police, the Auckland Council and Neighbourhood Support on Tuesday to come up with a plan for dealing with ongoing intimidation, graffiti and other crime in the suburb.

A group of "undesirable youths" are at the centre of many of the issues, Mt Roskill Community Policing Team Sergeant James Cassin says.

"We know who they are and we are targeting them," he says.

Sandringham Reserve is a hotspot for youths who gather to drink alcohol.

"They get intoxicated and then start harassing people," Mr Cassin says.

Some have been trying to sell stolen goods to people outside shops.

Azeem Mohammed says it intimidates customers and puts them off coming into his restaurant.

Some less scrupulous shopkeepers have bought the stolen property themselves which adds to the problem, Mr Cassin says.

Shubhai Singh arrived late one night at the premises where he works and lives and noticed about six teens loitering along the road.

Two of the youths were blocking his front gate and he was too frightened to get out of his car.

On another occasion he caught youths tagging his shop.

He's been in the area for 13 years and says people have always gathered in the park to drink.

The first step towards dealing with the issues has been building a business network so owners can share information with each other and police, Mr Cassin says.

Business owners are being educated on how to trespass people from their premises.

A new security camera due to be installed this week will survey the main shopping area and give police the upper hand.

Mr Cassin is encouraged by the number of businesses that are showing an interest in combating the issues.

"Often we're chasing our tails a bit. So it is good to put some solutions in place."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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