New Zealand business owners are being urged by insurance providers to protect themselves with effective risk management, as claim amounts for ram raids and burglaries spike.
The frequency of insurance claims made by businesses targeted for crime has also risen over a twelve-month period.
New Zealand Insurance (NZI) figures show the company’s average claim costs have risen by almost 40 per cent between July 2021 and June 2022, while the claims’ frequency is up by almost 20 per cent.
Ninety per cent of claims for ram raids came from North Island businesses.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Auckland and Waikato were the most common businesses to submit claims for ram raids, Auckland making up 34.7 per cent of claims for damage.
During the same twelve-month period, NZI has received 305 claims linked to retail shops - with 84.3 per cent of claims attributed to a form of “burglary”.
Almost 5 per cent of these claims came from armed hold-ups.
The data painted a bleak picture for NZI’s executive general manager, Garry Taylor, who called ram raids “disruptive at the best of times” for Kiwi businesses.
“Often there’s significant damage to the building, on top of the loss of stock,” Taylor said.
“In some parts of the country, supply chain shortages have meant lead times to procure shopfront glass and tradespeople has increased.”
From what Taylor has heard in the industry, dairies adding vaping products to their shelves has increased their likelihood of being burgled.
He said while security measures for cigarettes have developed and improved over the last decade, vaping products don’t have as good a standard as they tend to have fewer measures in place.
“We urge retailers to take similar security measures for vape products, such as those typically in place for cigarettes. High quality, locked cabinets and minimising excess stock are strategies that tend to work well.
According to Taylor, business owners need to start being proactive to protect their stores, through effective risk management and prevention.
Some of the measures he believed would help owners include changing the shop’s layout for better visibility of entrances and exits and controlled access, where only one customer is allowed in at a time.
“[It’s] a practice usually reserved for higher-end retail such as jewellery stores,” he said.
Taylor also said bollards are strong visual deterrents and “worth the investment” but will vary in effectiveness if they’re not installed correctly.
“We recommend choosing bollards that are made of steel and properly installed by a suitably experienced installer. Ram beams are another effective solution when underground cables and pipework make bollards difficult to install.”
The insurance executive also warned businesses against showing anything tempting in a shop’s window at night, removing stock out of site and taking out the till’s drawer to show it’s empty.
Garry Taylor has warned businesses against showing anything tempting in a shop’s window at night. Photo / Supplied
Ram raiders will usually target branded goods, said Taylor, as well as items easily disposable through social media like branded clothing, surf and sports gear.
“Power tools and cigarettes have traditionally been stolen, but we are seeing an increase in vape products being targeted.”
The Government announced on Monday that every small shop and dairy in the country would be given access to a free fog cannon for their store.
Taylor believes these are an effective defence and said more retailers have been installing them due to the initiative.
“There are also fog cannon models that come with a personal panic button that can be worn around your neck, and therefore activated from anywhere in the shop, not just the counter,” he said.
“We have had examples of burglaries where perpetrators waited for staff to step away from the counter where the fog cannon panic button is usually installed.”
Police Minister Chris Hipkins previously revealed there had been 129 ram raids between May and August 2022.
“Almost all of these people are under 18 years old, and their median age was 15,” Hipkins said.
Of the 129 recorded ram raids, 84 were in Auckland, where ram raids and smash-and-grab robberies have traumatised business owners and workers.
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