The Scourge of Ram-Raiding: A Retailer’s Nightmare

by | May 8, 2024


Suddenly, headlights pierce the darkness. A vehicle accelerates directly toward your storefront. Tires screech, glass shatters, and figures surge in amidst the debris. It happens in a flash, a whirlwind of violence and destruction. Your business is the latest victim of a ram-raiding attack. Once a relatively rare occurrence, these brazen crimes are now shockingly frequent, leaving retailers reeling in their wake.

What Is Ram-Raiding?

Ram-raiding—also known as a crash-and-grab—is a direct, brutal form of burglary. Criminals use a vehicle, usually stolen, to smash through a storefront or barrier. Once inside, they grab high-value merchandise, often targeting electronics, designer goods, jewelry, or even ATMs. This approach is all about speed, with thieves in and out within minutes.

Ram-raiding, though now infamous for its brazenness, is not a new phenomenon. Its roots stretch back to the pre-World War II era when raids were already gaining notoriety. Initially, these often involved just one vehicle. But by the 1930s, multi-car operations became common—one for the crash, one for the raid, one for the getaway, and often one for blocking the police—significantly increasing potential gains.

Jewelry stores were the most popular targets by the 1950s, with burglars using cars and grappling hooks to rip grilles off storefronts. Nowadays, any store could be a target. Cannabis and liquor stores, luxury goods, and electronics are frequently on the hit list.

But why do criminals resort to such audacious tactics? How prevalent is ram-raiding? What impact does it have on retailers? And what can be done about it?

Let’s find out.

Ram-Raiding: A Growing Threat

Ram-raiding has long been a menace to retailers, but recent years have seen a concerning uptick in its prevalence. The bold nature of these crimes, coupled with the potential for substantial financial gain, has made ram-raiding an attractive option for opportunistic thieves. Major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles see frequent ram-raid attempts, with luxury stores and dispensaries often targeted.

According to a report by CBS News Chicago, the city has been grappling with a surge in crash-and-grab burglaries, with criminals targeting businesses ranging from convenience stores to high-end boutiques. Criminologist Arthur Lurigio noted, “A property crime turned into a violent crime, so what we can expect is a change in police behavior and anticipation in encountering an offender. I’m not sure if the retail stores can do anything more than they do.”

In one particularly egregious incident in Seattle, thieves rammed a car into a Greenwood pot store, making off with over $10,000 worth of cannabis products, as reported by KIRO 7 News.

Such incidents not only result in significant financial losses for retailers but also pose a threat to public safety.

Why Do Criminals Ram Raid?

Several factors contribute to why ram raids are an appealing crime:

  • Quick and Easy: Unlike sophisticated heists, ram raids require minimal planning. It’s a crude but effective crime.
  • High Reward: Luxury items and electronics are sought-after on the black market, fetching significant profits.
  • Low (Perceived) Risk: Perpetrators often wear masks and target stores at night, making identification difficult. Historically, the perception has been that the chances of getting caught are minimal.

The Impact on Retailers

The repercussions of ram-raiding extend far beyond the immediate loss of merchandise. For retailers, the aftermath of a crash-and-grab burglary can be devastating. Not only are they forced to bear the financial burden of replacing stolen goods and repairing property damage, but they also face potential disruption to their operations and reputational damage.

And the psychological toll on business owners and employees cannot be overstated. The sense of violation and vulnerability that accompanies a ram-raiding incident can linger long after the physical damage has been repaired, leaving a lasting impact on those affected.

The true cost of ram raids extends far beyond just the value of stolen goods. Retailers face:

  • Property Damage: Repairing smashed storefronts, shattered displays, and structural damage can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.
  • Lost Revenue: Stores are forced to close during repairs, losing vital sales and disrupting operations.
  • Insurance Woes: Premiums skyrocket, and some businesses become uninsurable, crippling their ability to operate. In addition, if any employees were present during the ram-raiding attack and sustained injuries, workers’ compensation claims come into play.
  • Psychological Trauma: Staff and owners experience fear, anxiety, and a sense of powerlessness long after the robbery itself.
  • Community Blight: The prevalence of ram raids tarnishes a neighborhood’s image and drives away shoppers, harming the wider business community.

How to Prevent Ram-Raiding Attacks

In the face of this growing threat, retailers must proactively protect their businesses. While there is no foolproof solution, implementing a combination of strategies can help.

However, some town officials resist. Visible security measures like bollards clash with the town’s aesthetic, leading officials to deny installation permits. A store owner in Chicago spent $2,500 installing concrete barriers after his business fell victim to a crash-and-grab robbery. The local alderman took issue and forced their removal. The store was promptly hit again.

Here’s what some desperate retailers are doing to prevent ram raids.

  • Physical Barriers: Bollards, reinforced concrete planters, and retractable grilles make storefronts less vulnerable. Removable bollards provide nighttime protection while allowing access during business hours.
  • Reinforce Entry Points: Consider heavy-duty steel doors, impact-resistant windows, and reinforced concrete walls.
  • Enhanced Security: Improved lighting, high-definition security cameras, and overnight patrols increase the criminals’ risk.
  • Motion-Activated Alarms: Alarms that trigger when a vehicle breaches a perimeter around the store give police a head start.
  • GPS Trackers: Discreetly place GPS trackers on high-value merchandise to assist with recovery.
  • Remove High-Value Targets: Some stores keep less valuable merchandise on display overnight and lock up or relocate expensive inventory.
  • Limit Cash on Hand: Minimize the amount of cash kept on-premises to reduce a thief’s potential gains.
  • Staff Training: Train staff on identifying suspicious activity and what procedures to follow in the event of a ram raid.
  • Community Collaboration: Work with law enforcement, neighboring businesses, and local government to share intelligence and develop area-wide security plans.
  • Advocacy for Change: Push for legislative changes that increase penalties for ram-raiding and make selling stolen goods more difficult.

Sometimes, even these strategies aren’t enough to stop ram-raiding criminals.

When Criminals Get Nasty, Get Revenge. Learn More About FlashBang.
When Criminals Get Nasty, Get Revenge. Learn More About FlashBang.

Introducing FlashBang: A Game-Changing Solution

Recognizing the urgent need for innovative solutions to combat ram-raiding, Deep Sentinel has developed FlashBang, a revolutionary security system designed to provide an immediate and high-impact response to violent crimes. By combining cutting-edge technology with rapid deployment capabilities, FlashBang offers retailers a powerful tool for deterring and disrupting ram-raids in progress.

Using a combination of bright strobe lights, ear-piercing sound blasts, smoke bombs, and pepper spray, FlashBang disorients and incapacitates intruders, thwarting their attempts to commit crimes and enabling law enforcement to respond swiftly. Make them regret ever targeting your business.

FlashBang integrates seamlessly with Deep Sentinel’s PoE camera system and security monitoring service, providing retailers with enhanced visibility and control over their premises.

Win the Fight Against Ram Raiders

Ram-raiding poses a significant threat to retailers, jeopardizing their financial stability, safety, and peace of mind. It’s time to fight back.

By implementing proactive security measures and leveraging innovative solutions like FlashBang, businesses can strengthen their defenses against this insidious form of burglary. Together, we can make our communities safer and more secure.

Protect what matters most with an immediate, high-octane response.

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When Criminals Get Nasty, Get Revenge.
With criminals becoming more violent, the response needs to become more aggressive. FlashBang subdues even the most determined intruders with smoke bombs, pepper spray, strobes, and sirens. Visit or call 833.983.6006 for more information.

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