A violent robbery at a Werribee C-store earlier this week has prompted AACS CEO Jeff Rogut to call on the Victorian Government to take a tougher stance on crime, condemning a lack of action against crimes in the P&C sector.
“Victoria Police recognise the increasing incidence of crimes against convenience stores but they urgently require greater support and resources from the Victorian Government and the judiciary,” he said.
“This is not an opportunistic cry for help. These types of violent robberies are an all-too-common occurrence for people who work in the convenience industry and it’s unacceptable that people should be faced with such terror in the course of doing their job.”
On July 9, the family-owned and run milk bar in Melbourne’s west was stormed by up to eight masked youths, the store’s second robbery in just under a month.
Detectives investigating the incident believe at least two of the offenders were carrying knives.
Extensive damage was caused to the shop, including smashed windows and damaged stock.
Senior constable Michael Mirgannis said both cash and cigarettes were taken.
“At this stage, we believe it’s between $200 and $300 and an unknown quantity of cigarettes that they’ve stolen,” he said.
As the second robbery the store has faced in under a month, following an earlier robbery in June, the owners of the C-store have made the decision to close it.
In the aftermath of the first robbery, store owner Mary Lakkis said she would never work again as the incident had left her too frightened.
“He held a knife about one metre long to my chest,” she said.
“My husband said: ‘Take the money as long as you give me the knife’.
“I’ll never work again, I’m too frightened.”
Mr Mirgiannis said the police were also aware of the incident that occurred a few weeks prior, and were trying to establish links between the two.
“The wife of the owner is visibly distressed and upset; as a result, they’re planning to close the store here,” he said.
“It’s terrible that they have to close the store and give up their livelihood.”
Mr Rogut has publically urged the Police Minister to take steps to understand the trauma and effects that crimes of this nature can inflict on people.
“We again encourage the Police Minister to engage with our industry so we can work together to put in place a coordinated action plan to tackle these crimes. We cannot allow these crimes against retailers to continue unchecked,” he said.
“While we acknowledge that police are in many cases under-resourced, and their efforts are often not backed up by the judicial process, the reality is that criminals who commit these crimes understand that there is very little chance they’ll ever have to face the music. Enough is enough.”
Mr Rogut’s comments echoed his own sentiments made in April of this year when he urged C-store staff to use caution following a murder at a Caltex P&C station in Queanbeyan.