Starbucks call police for help
Homeless people accused of stealing merchandise from Queen St outlet
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.