Latest break-in could be the final straw for Coombs’ only shop

Dominic Giannini 6 March 2020 52
The Ajijo Grovery and Convenience Store

The small grocery at the Coombs shops. The rest of the centre is empty. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The Ajijo Grocery and Convenience Store – the only tenant at the Coombs shops – has again fallen victim to thieves, being broken into for at least the fourth time in under a year early on Wednesday morning (4 March).

Although no cash was stolen this time, Ajit Kumar, who runs the store, said thousands of dollars of cash and goods were stolen the first couple of times thieves broke in.

After being broken into so many times, Mr Kumar says he is thinking of shutting up shop in the lonely complex and moving his business to Tuggeranong or Belconnen.

“When I spoke to the owner as I was signing the lease, I was told that there were other tenants as well, that they would have more tenants soon,” he told Region Media.

“When we started we had hoped that there would be more shops there, but it eventually turned out to not be the case.”

The shop, which is owned by Mr Kumar’s wife Jyotsna, is struggling to make ends meet with the constant break-ins.

“Being a single store in the area we were an easy target because there is no security at all,” Mr Kumar said.

“People who walked in were telling me this when they came into the store. It looks like they are targeting it because it is a lone shop.”

CCTV forage of a break-in at Ajijo

A CCTV image of the would-be thief breaking into Ajijo. Photo: Ajijo Facebook.

Coombs is a rapidly expanding suburb in Canberra’s south-west with over 6000 residents, many of whom have become increasingly concerned with the lack of infrastructure, and how the owner of the complex, Renato Cervo, has dragged his feet developing the shopping centre.

A community petition was launched in June 2018 by angry residents about the lack of progress on the development, which was uncompleted at the time.

Residents also expressed their annoyance at the lack of facilities in the suburb in an open letter to politicians and the CEO of the Suburban Land Agency.

The development took two years to complete and Mr Kumar and his wife opened the small Indian grocery and convenience store in March 2019.

The family is encouraged by the community to fill a gap in the market, a community he has lauded as exceptionally supportive.

“I was talking to my friends in the area and they think that there should be some shops there in the area. I had a lot of support from the locals in the area [to start the shop],” he said.

“The locals have been quite nice. I can see that they come to my store to support us which is quite a nice thing.”

Ajit Kumar and his wife Jyotsna

Ajit Kumar and his wife Jyotsna are considering moving their business after multiple break-ins. Photo: Supplied.

Mr Kumar says the owner could do more to secure other leases.

“There have been many people talking to me who say they are serious about renting the space, but when it comes to the owner, they are not getting any deals,” he said.

“At some point in time, we may need to pull the plug and move to another place. We are exploring options and I am not sure how long it will take.”


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52 Responses to Latest break-in could be the final straw for Coombs’ only shop
Spiral Spiral 5:44 am 10 Mar 20

A quick scan of the price per square meter for commercial properties shows that the Coombs shops are significantly more expensive than shops listed for lease in Tuggeranong or even Woden.

Not to mention the anecdotal claims that the owner of the Coombs shops is difficult to deal with.

It appears the owner is not making a realistic attempt to lease this property.

We can speculate on the reasons why, but time will probably make things clearer.

An election is coming up. We have political candidates and/or their staffers on this forum.

I ask those people, please let us know what your proposal is to fix this problem?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:23 pm 09 Mar 20

“The Ajijo Grocery and Convenience Store – the only tenant at the Coombs shops….”

Another epic fail from a government which loves talking about “active transport”, but which continues to deliver hopeless outcomes in practice – this is just another reason for people to drive from Molonglo to Weston or Woden.

aaa123 aaa123 3:34 pm 09 Mar 20

No one wants to lease a 1000m supermarket it is too small and can’t compete with the surrounding shopping centres, without a supermarket they will not get any other tenants, it is the same as is happening in Giralang where the developer won’t commence work on the DA because they cannot get a supermarket tenant. The Barr government deliberately introduced the law reducing the supermarket size to 1000m for select shopping centres which has unsurprisingly resulted in this outcome. This has been going on in Giralang since 2005 with no end in sight so Coombs can easily expect another 10 years + of this.

    Spiral Spiral 7:57 am 10 Mar 20

    This supermarket size limitation is often raised as an issue.

    If indeed it is a significant factor in the inability to get a supermarket in there, then there would seem to be an easy solution.

    Can’t our planning (or whoever is responsible) minister provide an exemption for the Coombs shops.

    Having seen the inside of the centre it wouldn’t seem too difficult to expand the empty supermarket into a couple of the empty shops.

    But perhaps it is more difficult than it appears because surely that has already been considered and rejected.

Sarah Collins Sarah Collins 3:15 pm 09 Mar 20

Caroline Carrick these shops make me think of you 😂😂

    Caroline Carrick Caroline Carrick 3:46 pm 09 Mar 20

    Sarah Collins 😂😂😂 I actually can believe no one else has moved into the shops! Poor guy!

    Caroline Carrick Caroline Carrick 3:46 pm 09 Mar 20

    Sarah Collins also the comments!!

Yuri Shukost Yuri Shukost 12:04 pm 09 Mar 20

Back in the late '80s, I was living across the road from the grocery store on Hennesy Street in Emu Ridge, Belconnen. They had been broken into a number of times and finally the owner decided he'd had enough and closed the store. I believe the place became derelict and was eventually demolished to make way for uni student accommodation. That should help you in convincing the owner to meet you halfway.

David Lawrence David Lawrence 10:40 am 09 Mar 20

Move to Coolaman Court 😀

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 8:28 am 09 Mar 20

Did they stell all the toilet paper? 🙄🤪

    AJIJO AJIJO 10:03 am 09 Mar 20

    we are out of stock.. even our suppliers don't have in stock..

    Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 12:13 pm 09 Mar 20

    AJIJO oh... Hope everyone is ok

AJIJO AJIJO 6:21 am 09 Mar 20

We are trying our best to continue at the current location as long as possible however it gets difficult after a certain point. As our last effort to boost business potential at the Coombs shopping complex, we have requested the landlord to allow us to use some part of the leased space (within AJIJO store) for starting another small business ( an education franchise centre). Earlier we were planning to start the centre at another place but we are ready to bring it to the Coombs shopping centre. We are hoping that starting of the centre would boost foot-traffic in the complex and might encourage other businesses to consider this complex to start their business. As expected, our request was verbally denied by the landlord. However, we are still trying to convince him to let us start the education centre. Hope, he listens...

    Katie Lambart Katie Lambart 9:54 pm 11 Mar 20

    AJIJO I applaud your efforts and it’s disappointing the landlord isn’t accommodating your request.

Kun Liu Kun Liu 4:56 am 09 Mar 20

This is sad. I feel sorry for them... the police and the gov should do something about it otherwise no stores would like to move in.

    Lynn Barry Lynn Barry 3:19 pm 09 Mar 20

    Kun Liu the government did do something put social housing in numbers in Coombes and Denham?

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 8:35 pm 09 Mar 20

    Lynn Barry all the residents from the city...

Melissa Flanigan Melissa Flanigan 11:57 pm 08 Mar 20

That’s so sad ... no person should not feel safe at work and no persons business should be under constant threat. Some days I think shop owners should be able to arm themselves

Claudine Norton Claudine Norton 11:56 pm 08 Mar 20

Haven’t liked state government for a while. I think the thing stopping change is the fact there is a lot of public servants and whenever the Liberals get in...they cut the public service industry. Self preservation at all costs it seems

Stan Vizovitis Stan Vizovitis 9:10 pm 08 Mar 20

Get mr barr to explain his high commercial rates and taxes for which you excuse landlords of high rents in some recent cases more than the rent collected

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 8:57 pm 08 Mar 20

Move to Lanyon. We need an Indian Grocery shop.

Hamish Sinclair Hamish Sinclair 7:21 pm 08 Mar 20

EPSDD planning failure

Harry Vallianos Harry Vallianos 6:57 pm 08 Mar 20

Simple answer people and one person to blame well maybe two Barr & Ratenbury. The rates in Canberra is ridiculous and even property owners/developers have to pay ridiculous amounts of tax and therefore pass on on to tenants. That is part of the reason we have high fuel prices as well

    Adam Van Gerwen Adam Van Gerwen 7:02 pm 08 Mar 20

    citation please

    Gina Crossman Gina Crossman 7:15 pm 08 Mar 20

    Harry Vallianos no they choose to leave places empty- there are shops vacant for over two years - so surely a tenant at lower rent pays land tax more than no rent !!!!

    Harry Vallianos Harry Vallianos 7:34 pm 08 Mar 20

    Gina Crossman there is more than just the rent. You obviously have never run a business. It’s tough

    Gina Crossman Gina Crossman 7:35 pm 08 Mar 20

    Harry Vallianos yes no problems of course I haven’t 😩

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 7:40 pm 08 Mar 20

    Not even close to being correct. Retail tenancies are ridiculously over priced and landlords are preferring to leave them empty and chase top dollar rather than reduce rents. So are you seriously saying they would rather have vacant properties and pay all those high taxes and get nothing back in rent? Even dropping the rent to break even would be desirable if those retail landlords were doing it tough due to taxes. They are not and its not the issue. Also state based taxation in the ACT is lower than Victoria and NSW (according to the ABS) despite what all the whingers want to believe.

    Christine Evans Christine Evans 7:41 pm 08 Mar 20

    Harry Vallianos It’s not the governments fault that this shop has been broken it to four times. Why on earth would anyone else open another business there with that high crime rate.

    Harry Vallianos Harry Vallianos 7:46 pm 08 Mar 20

    Christine Evans I never said it was

    Harry Vallianos Harry Vallianos 7:46 pm 08 Mar 20

    Justin Watson have you ever run a business.

    David Eschbach David Eschbach 10:29 pm 08 Mar 20

    Christine Evans government has a big part to play in it, they moved a heap of junkies in down the road and what happens? Crime goes up

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 11:34 pm 08 Mar 20

    Harry Vallianos that makes no sense. The owner of this shopping centre is paying rates regardless of weather the centre is tenanted or vacant. Surely it is in his interest to have rent to help pay them.

    As for fuel prices I suggest you look at an app like petrolspy. If you did you might see that the prices here are actually not as bad as people make out. Those that compare often compare the cheapest price they can find rather than the average going price. The thing that makes Canberra “look” so high is the lack of price cycles. Sydney for example swings quite a lot even from area to area but look at the averages and it isn’t too far off what we pay.

    Pico Gregory Pico Gregory 12:52 am 09 Mar 20

    Ashley Wright Absolutely correct, I'm amazed at the weekly 50 cent cycle here on the sunshine coast

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 1:00 am 09 Mar 20

    Pico Gregory yeah well Sydney is currently anywhere between $1.20 and $1.50 even in same suburb. Next week they will all be $1.45.

    Anyway how you enjoying the Sunshine Coast? Missing Canberra? Obviously not.

    David Eschbach David Eschbach 9:08 am 09 Mar 20

    Christine Evans not of the magnitude it is now, after the new friendly residents moved in crime spiked insurances went up, There is a 100% chance this is because of the new high quality neighbours the government shipped in.

    Pico Gregory Pico Gregory 9:33 am 09 Mar 20

    Ashley Wright not at all 😎😁

    Harry Vallianos Harry Vallianos 11:13 am 09 Mar 20

    Justin Watson sorry but I am correct. Do you know how much commercial rates have risen in the ACT.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 10:00 pm 09 Mar 20

    Harry Vallianos he didn’t say rates hadn’t risen. He stated quite correctly that our “state based” taxation are still, even with the rises not too different from NSW and Vic.

Viveka Sood Viveka Sood 6:56 pm 08 Mar 20

What.... 😳😳😳😳again...

Helen Ritchie Helen Ritchie 6:47 pm 08 Mar 20

The rent there for retail is ridiculous. I enquired and they have just priced themselves silly.

Lower rents and you might get retailers

    Stan Vizovitis Stan Vizovitis 9:12 pm 08 Mar 20

    Get the government to lower all their rates and charges

Gina Crossman Gina Crossman 6:43 pm 08 Mar 20

Owners shouldn’t be allowed to leave properties vacant! Same at Mawson - empty shops for years - drop the rent and boost the local neighbourhoods!

    Alice Leda Shornwoolly Lamb Alice Leda Shornwoolly Lamb 6:45 pm 08 Mar 20

    Gina Crossman and at Lyons, so many useful businesses shut and moved away

    Gina Crossman Gina Crossman 6:46 pm 08 Mar 20

    Alice Leda Shornwoolly Lamb yes it’s disgraceful! Greedy owners who don’t give a toss about the community- surely some rent is better and to revitalise suburbs

    Alice Leda Shornwoolly Lamb Alice Leda Shornwoolly Lamb 6:47 pm 08 Mar 20

    Gina Crossman well one would think so...... if it’s not just about money

    Mark Kulasingham Mark Kulasingham 8:08 pm 08 Mar 20

    Gina Crossman Have you been to Mawson lately? Place is jumping!

    Natalie Porter Natalie Porter 8:24 pm 08 Mar 20

    I live in a small town and its no different here. They want city prices and some shops have been empty for 10years

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 11:32 pm 08 Mar 20

    Gina Crossman who says the owners are deliberately keeping the vacant. It makes no sense.

    Maybe the reason they are vacant is because the demand from business owners isn’t there.

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 6:40 pm 08 Mar 20

Why are people breaking into shops in Coombs? Is it a really poor suburb?

    Geoff Richardson Geoff Richardson 7:29 pm 08 Mar 20

    Russell Nankervis simple - easy target for thieves!

Alan Rose Alan Rose 6:31 pm 08 Mar 20

I feel sorry for Mr Kumar, I live across in Wright and it was a selling point for me when I moved in saying there will be a shop there soon. All we have is a mostly empty building. What the hell is going on, the local government needs to step in and put some pressure on the owner and get some action.

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