• Some thieves are stealing vehicles, from cars to backhoes and driving them into stores that they want to rob.
  • Thieves use the tactic against high-value targets, such as guns or cash-filled ATMs.
  • Retailers from Target to Home Depot have talked a lot lately about theft, though the extent of the problem is unclear.


Some thieves who target retailers are stealing vehicles and smashing them through storefronts in a twist on retail theft known as “ram raiding.”

The practice involves targeting stores that have high-value items inside, such as guns, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. But some thieves aren’t looking to steal merchandise at all: Instead, they steal ATMs inside of stores to break into them and steal the cash.

That’s what happened earlier this month in Oakland, California, when thieves drove a backhoe into an ampm convenience store, according to the Journal. They then reportedly used chains to haul the ATM away. Another example saw several thieves use the same strategy to steal firearms from a gun shop in Missouri despite the store’s steel reinforcements and other measures designed to deter robbers, the Journal reported.

In San Francisco, police found two suspects last month who allegedly drove a vehicle into a Christian Dior store in the city’s Union Square. The suspects allegedly worked with others to take handbags and other luxury goods from the store before they fled the scene, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.


While there are no statistics specifically on ram raiding, the practice appears to be more common now than in the past, the Journal reported. “It’s in the news more because it’s happening more,” John Ham, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the Journal. He added that ram raiding is something that the Bureau is “watching nationwide.”

Some retailers have said that theft at their stores has risen over the last few years and is affecting their businesses. One of the most high-profile examples came in September, when Target decided to close nine stores, citing theft and related violence.

But gauging the real impact of retail theft on retailers’ stores and broader business is tough. Few companies provide detailed data on how much theft hurts their bottom line, for instance.

And several of the stores that Target is closing aren’t notable for shoplifting or violent robberies, an Insider review of crime data suggests.