Victim of vape store robbery blames heavy-handed regulation for uptick in thefts

A store selling vape products is blaming heavy-handed regulation for an increase in violent robberies.

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Store owners are blaming tight regulation for the uptick. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after CCTV captures a dramatic robbery at a vape crew store in Matamata.

The violent smash and grab saw robbers flee with thousands of dollars worth of products two weeks ago.

"A big mess, glass everywhere. this is one big window and a lot of mess inside where they smashed their way through cabinets,” Brett Nixon, the regional operations manager at Vape Crew, told 1 NEWS.

Police were able to quickly catch three offenders and some of the product was returned. However, staff are concerned it’s going to happen again.

“Our one in Hamilton actually got broken into twice in two weeks - this one's had it. We've had other stores where we have had simple thefts during the day while the staff have been in there,” Nixon says.

“These robberies are really starting to pick up in the last couple of months,” the company's managing director QJ Satchell says.

“We've invested really heavily in our security footage and every shop is on monitored alarms."

While they're not against regulation, they say the ones that are coming in are heavy-handed. The company is now having to invest in new sales reporting systems, increased testing, new machinery and labels. They say some of that cost is being passed onto the customer.

Last year, the Government passed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill. It changed the existing Smoke-free Environments Act to put new rules on the use of vaping products. These included preventing their use in smokefree areas and restricting how and where the products could be sold or advertised. 

“Places can't afford to keep up with those costs and prices have to go up, making it a much higher demand item. There is going to be a lot more - like what we saw with the cigarette industry - a lot more break-ins, a lot more thefts,” Nixon says.

The Health Ministry would not comment on the burglaries at vape shops but says it’s considering public submissions on the Act and will recommend changes if needed.