They came from every corner of Nelson for support, advice and camaraderie.
Twenty-seven dairy and store owners banded together in the Nelson City Council chambers on Friday morning to address the spate of robberies in the region during the last four months.
Nelson, Stoke, Hope, Wakefield, Appleby and Lower Moutere stores were all well represented. And, it didn’t matter if they had been hit or not – they just wanted reassurance that their store wasn’t going to be the next one to be targeted.
Mayor Rachel Reese, Nelson city councillors, Neighbourhood Support, Victim Support and Nelson Police were there to facilitate the meeting, which saw attendees split into five groups, with each having to “brainstorm” ideas that could help protect their stores.
Some ideas that came from the meeting were being more “aware” of their surroundings, sharing information, more security for cigarette cabinets, more signage, CCTV cameras, improved lighting and helping owners feel more comfortable to speak to police.
It was also suggested that Nelson police should re-establish their Victory and Tahunanui community bases.
Victory Discounter Dairy manager Darshini Chauhan said she found the meeting supportive.
Her Toi Toi St store was robbed earlier this month.
“It’s quite helpful, knowing each other,” she said. “But it is also good to know what the police and council are going to do to make us safe.”
Tim Crawford from Nelson Police said at the meeting that they would be “front footing” the issue by being more visible with their patrols and helping owners improve their environmental design.
“Our role is to facilitate and work with these businesses.”
He also said that the Government rolled out $1.8 million last month to police nationwide to help prevent robberies.
They will be helping dairies that have been hit, by splitting the cost of “big ticket” security items, such as fog cannons.
Fog cannons can fill rooms with dense fog in a few seconds, which prevents would-be robbers from being able to see.
“There are half a dozen businesses that have been targeted and we will be approaching them shortly,” said Tim.
But this was questioned by one dairy owner, who didn’t want to be named, asking if they would be “behind in the line” for help.
“What about the ones who have not been robbed?”
Blair Hall of Nelson Police said he was happy with the turnout and the meeting was a good way to connect with dairy owners and hear their perspective.
“I’ve spoken to a few of the owners and they are feeling like they are not alone – we’ll go away from this, meet with council and look at the ideas.”