In 2015, the media began to report with greater frequency that NZ convenience stores were being robbed for tobacco products. There are three reasons why this was shocking to the NZ public. Firstly, the stores most frequently targeted were what is known in NZ as the “dairy”—a small, usually family-owned corner store set on its own or in a small suburban-based block of small stores serving the local residential area. Briefly, these are iconic stores that have historically been safe community places needing little security. Secondly, many of the thieves brandished weapons, bashed shop staff, and caused property damage. Vehicles, many stolen, were driven into shopfronts in ramraid style. Thirdly, the frequency of tobacco robbery reports increased month on month, causing concern to mount.
We conducted a content analysis of all online media articles containing commentary about these robberies, published between 2014 and 2019, to identify the perceived causes of the increase in robberies for tobacco and remedies implemented or demanded.