Star­bucks call po­lice for help

Home­less peo­ple ac­cused of steal­ing mer­chan­dise from Queen St out­let

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - Tom Dil­lane

Baris­tas and servers work­ing at Star­bucks’ Auck­land CBD store say they are ha­rassed by home­less peo­ple ev­ery day, with po­lice forced to in­ter­vene in two in­ci­dents in re­cent months.

Staff at the US cof­fee em­pire’s Queen St fran­chise say home­less peo­ple of­ten refuse to leave the premises, are abu­sive, branded mer­chan­dise.

One server at the mid­town Auck­land store said he has al­ready called po­lice about a dis­tur­bance in­volv­ing a rough sleeper in the month that he has been work­ing there.

“They kept com­ing in, so we called the po­lice,” one worker said. “We called the po­lice be­cause they don’t go out when we ask them to go out.

“To­day it hap­pened. Some of them were sleep­ing out­side. They are nor­mally drunk or they’ve had a drug.”

Stand-in store man­ager Ivy Sy said po­lice were con­tacted fre­quently.

“And we have se­cu­rity guards out­side. Some­times we just call se­cu­rity,” Sy said.

“It’s an is­sue. The mer­chan­dise is and steal also stolen, lots of times, not only by the home­less, be­cause it’s a big store.”

Auck­land po­lice con­firmed they had at­tended two in­ci­dents at the store — on the cor­ner of Queen and Vic­to­ria Sts — in re­cent months.

At 8.30am on Septem­ber 7, po­lice re­sponded to a re­port of staff be­ing ver­bally abused and es­corted two men from the premises. Po­lice also at­tended an­other in­ci­dent re­cently but could not pro­vide de­tails.

Star­bucks rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kylie Grader said they could not con­firm any spe­cific in­ci­dents of ha­rass­ment at the Queen St store.

“We have pro­cesses in place for part­ners who feel un­safe or un­com­fort­able in­side or around our stores,” Grader said. “When lo­cal lead­er­ship is made aware of any sit­u­a­tion, we act to ad­dress it im­me­di­ately.”

Auck­land Coun­cil’s on-call duty com­pli­ance team said they had not re­ceived any calls about dis­tur­bances at the Queens St store.

Coun­cil com­mu­nity em­pow­er­ment man­ager Chris­tine Olsen said when they are made aware of is­sues con­cern­ing the home­less, they al­ways try to help, but pointed out the “pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity” for sup­port­ing rough sleep­ers lay with the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment.

Last week, Hous­ing Min­is­ter Phil Twyford said home­less­ness across New Zealand was the worst it had been in years, with all ma­jor mea­sures showed it had in­creased in 2018.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures, 2585 peo­ple were also placed into tran­si­tional hous­ing dur­ing the Septem­ber quar­ter, up from 1663 last year.

Com­pound­ing the is­sue, in Septem­ber this year, Auck­land City Mis­sion re­lo­cated from its Hob­son St base, so the build­ing could un­dergo a $90 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment.

Around 400 home­less peo­ple list the Hob­son St site as their ad­dress.

Star­bucks Queen St.

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