The act of ram raiding, a criminal driving a car, or in some instances a heavy van or SUV, straight through the front entrance of a commercial property before making a theft and driving away, is a violent and costly crime that affects business owners with the double blow of stolen stock (usually on a large scale) and extensive property damage.
Ram raiding began in the 1930s and reached its height in the UK in the early 90s, where police in the North East launched a campaign that attempted to tackle ram raiding after a high profile incident where the Metro shopping centre in Gateshead was raided, causing thousands worth of damage. Ram raid numbers have decreased since their 90s heyday, with the crime being dangerous for the criminals (who are essentially staging a car crash for themselves) and getaways often messy.
However, ram raids still happen and businesses vulnerable to attack include banks, shops that sell technology and expensive gadgets, and supermarkets. However, recent raids have bucked the trend, most notably a frozen yoghurt shop in Bradford that was raided in October this year, with the raiders attempting to steal a commercial size ice cream maker. Despite the raiders’ unsuccessful attempt thanks to the heft of the machine, they still left the shop in tatters.
Another unusual and high profile raid this year was on Gucci’s flagship store on Sloane Street, whose front was completely destroyed before criminals drove away with hundreds of thousands worth of designer handbags in March.
Ram raiders are also becoming more imaginative in their targets, with a recent raid of a college sports centre near Norwich showing that raiders will not just stick to commercial properties.
There are many ways to secure your business against a ram raid. A popular choice is bollards outside the store, but these can often put off customers and damage the aesthetics of your property. A study in the 90s, during the height of ram raiding, looked at a group of shops and compared their losses after installing security roller shutters. The average loss from the stores due to theft (not just from raiding, but all of the stores had been victim to ram raiders) went down from an average of £18,000 straight down to £500 every year. Security shutters hide your store from display, meaning your stock isn’t being advertised towards the smash and grab ram raider. They also discourage cars as shutters are much harder to break than glass.
Ram raids are still a very real threat for commercial properties and beyond, make sure you’re protected.