Spate of violent robberies spark special operation by Manawatu Police

Dairy owners in Manawatu have banded together to support each other, following a spate of robberies in the region. 

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Police say criminals have been targeting local dairies and service stations so officers are trying a new approach. Source: 1 NEWS

Manawatu police have also launched a special operation in response to the aggravated robberies in recent months.

Operation Star has seen a team of detectives dedicated to investigating the robberies and making sure business owners are prepared to protect themselves.

The operation has also seen police on the beat, visiting dairies more regularly. 

But police are encouraging dairy owners to also protect themselves. 

Four Square owner Vijay Patel said the issue has been on his mind, so he has updated his security system recently. 

"We have sort of been mindful about it, what's been happening out there especially with all these aggravated robberies,” he told 1 NEWS.

“You are providing local customers a good service here and we feel that ourselves and our staff need to feel safe, plus the customers coming in here. You know, a store like this, we serve about two and a half thousand or up to four thousand people a week.” 

Police say it’s something they want to eliminate, particularly with robberies becoming increasingly violent. 

"Robberies are such an invasive crime and the effects of that are far reaching and everlasting. These people are terrorised in their own shops and many of the shops are attached to their homes," Senior Sergeant Phil Ward said.

In one incident this month, police arrested six people following an aggravated robbery in Bunnythorpe, near Palmerston North.

A group of six men aged from 14 to 29 entered the dairy armed with bats, and threatened the shop attendant. They then fled in a stolen vehicle.

Police are also using an app to stay in touch with dairy owners and to share information.

But dairy owners are also taking matters into their own hands, setting up their own What's App group.

"Anything bad happening, someone shop lifting or bad people coming in, bad experiences and stuff, we put it on What's App group so every single dairy owner they can see what’s going on in other shops," Four Square owner Mahendra Patel said.

Police are also working closely with neighbourhood support groups and police say ultimately it's about the whole community working together. 

"Get to know their dairy owner, share a bit of time with them, show a bit of love and it'll make a big difference," Senior Sergeant Ward said.