Ram-raiding by children is evidence that the administration of law and order in New Zealand has malfunctioned and, in this instance, police, courts, and politicians have all failed.
Can this problem be solved? Any attempt to stop youth ramraiding faces two issues: Who pays for bollards and damage to shops and loss of stock, and what sort of consequences should the young perpetrators face?
Bollards keep small cars out, according to security camera footage at a Four Square in Manurewa a few weeks ago. The set-up cost the store owner $100,000.(2) His insurer required it.
Bollards could be installed at all shops right now if councils immediately give consent and if central government pays, and if workers were available to do the work.
An immediate step in this direction by a competent government would be to install and pay for bollards at every ramraided shop immediately after the event.
Central government should pay because it is a law-and-order issue, the government has claimed sole responsibility for maintaining law and order, and in this instance, the police, the courts, and the politicians, have all failed.
What consequences should the young offenders face?
Police Minister Chris Hipkins’ promise of wrap-around support shows there are still no consequences for young ram-raiders. This means that there is no deterrent, and the twin rewards of spoils and fame mean that offenders will re-offend.
Locked up, ram-raiders cannot ram-raid. The witless catch-and release process ends. As all are caught, the ramraids stop.
Here it gets tricky and all sorts or arguments are used to give the young perpetrators a free pass.
It hasn’t always been like this, and it was not so long ago that caning and strapping in school gave young mischief-makers a painful experience of a consequence that may, later, give that mischief-maker cause to pause.
Having said that, there are consequences in law for young offenders but few seem willing to implement them.
In New Zealand, children aged 10 to 13 years old can be charged with serious offences but cannot be convicted of an offence unless they knew the act or omission to be wrong or contrary to law.
The fact that these young perpetrators brag on social media about their raids can serve as evidence that they know such actions are against the law.
Under Section 269 of the Crimes Act, the sentence for intentional damage, such as ram-raiding, either with or without intending to obtain a benefi,t is up to seven years jail.
Ram-raiders should lose their freedom for a period of time.
Children aged 10 to 13 should be in school. That loss-of-freedom could be spent locked-up at a boarding school for offenders which includes practical courses on the skills needed to repair the sort of damage they caused.
That might prepare them for a job someday.
Or it might prepare some for a life of crime, as “no boundaries” types will argue, but the bad ones were probably going to do so anyway. Others will have a taste of consequences for their actions and will never do it again.
Once the ram-raiders are taken out of circulation, convenience stores and malls the length and breadth of New Zealand will be able to carry out their business knowing that each morning they will arrive at work knowing that their store will be intact.
1. Adults teaching children how to steal, https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2022/09/ram-raided-store-owner-believes-adults-are-teaching-children-how-to-steal.html
2.Would-be thieves foiled, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/top-security-carloads-of-would-be-thieves-foiled-by-four-square-owners-100000-set-up/BKVJCHIB26CBNMPVLIJJSETP7Q/