Synthetic drug users feared
A specific group of young teens addicted to synthetic cannabis have created a mood of intimidation and fear in Auckland's Henderson shopping area with shop owners claiming police are doing little to stop it.
The group, some including adolescents not yet teens, were sitting in the sun today, just 20 metres up Great North Road where yesterday Railside Dairy owner Arun Kumar, 57, was stabbed to death.
Three shop owners spoke on-the-record about what was happening but four others would not.
One shop owner, across the road from the youth sitting in the sun, said "no, too frightened, not on camera."
Others who spoke said the young teens were frightening customers away and when the teens came into shops "you need to be very careful", one said.
But tattoo shop owner Boda Carter of Sanctuary Ink, 20m from Railside Dairy, was unafraid - and fondly remembered Kumar.
"Great man, excellent," Carter said.
"It is kind of hard - he is a very loving caring man. He used to give my daughter free lollypops, he said hello every morning. We always talked to him."
Carter said the area was suffering from a group of young teens, well known to all the shop owners.
"We have had a lot of trouble with them for months, always mugging people, stabbing people; it is not the first one," he said.
"Not even a month ago, eight of them jumped my own son on the train, to mug him, to grab whatever they can, sell it, grab synthetic weed. I blame that shit."
Carter said many people in the area had been knifed by the young teens.
For much of the time the youths were high on their drug, or wanted to get high and needed money.
"They've stabbed heaps of people. They are human trash."
Police did occasionally deal with the group and they had been caught on commuter trains trying to rob riders.
"At that age they can only get a slap on the wrist, more needs to be done," Carter said.
"I reckon beat them all within an inch of their lives, set an example."
He believed most of the group - which seems to run to 10 to 15 individuals - had been kicked out of schools and "half of their parents are already inside".
Fabric shop manager Prem Lata said customers were being deterred by the youngsters.
"We see the youngsters standing in front of the shops, asking for money from any of the customers," she said.
"We are really afraid of them."
Customers were afraid to come in.
"Sometimes they are afraid to go out."
She said the police were patrolling "but still it is harming us. Everybody is afraid to come along now".
"We have seen this young generation around here, the drinking, the drugs, and everything, and asking . . ."
She said she felt afraid when she was alone in the shop.
She knew Kumar well: "A really kind person."
Electronics shop owner Paul Yao said there were problems "with bad kids . . . most of them are outside."
He said he had to be "careful when by myself in the shop".
"You look after them well, do not get angry with them, you can chase them out, smoothly."
He agreed that when they were in the store he needed to be calm.
"Most of them stay outside smoke the drug; the drug can be very dangerous," he said.
More police needed to be along the streets.
"If the police everyday go three or four times around here it would be more [productive] for the business," he said.
Customers did not want to go through the youth to reach the shop.
"They always ask the customers for money for smoke."
A 13-year-old boy is facing a murder charge over Kumar's death and a 12-year-old boy is charged with aggravated robbery.