Retail crime and ram raids

Retail crime and ram raids

Date Published: 
March 2024

Retail crime costs New Zealand retailers $1 billion each year and has a significant personal impact on those working in the industry. This year has seen a spike in ram raid style burglaries, as we tend to see at times with other crime types. This has affected small local retailers and larger chains.

Police recognises the impact of retail crime on business owners and staff and takes reports of ram raids very seriously. Responses are normally District managed and include significant investigative action to identify and hold those responsible to account. Police has also been actively working alongside retailers and retail communities to give them prevention advice and support.

A strengthened multi-agency response is also being trialled in parts of Auckland to address the underlying factors that lead to young people engaging in risky behaviour and offending.

The government has also allocated $6 million from the Proceeds of Crime Fund for a crime prevention programme managed by Police which will include solutions such as installing bollards or other security for small retailers. This funding will enable Police to work closely with particularly vulnerable small retailers to identify effective and practical solutions based on the particular features of each business and location.

‘Ram-raid’ data

Police hold two data sets on Ram Raids.

One is text search operational offence data, and the other is individually reviewed file data, which includes manual review of individual ram raid incidents.

The first set is text search operational offence data and was created to be able to report against questions regarding historic and current volumes of Ram Raids. This data has been collected back to April 2017.

As ‘Ram Raid’ does not have its own offence code, this makes automatic collation of the data for up-to-date statistics (i.e., responding to Written Parliamentary Questions (WPQ’s)) problematic – i.e., the system (which uses text mining) may not pick up an incident where the key words ‘ram raid’ weren’t used in the report.

Ram Raid refers to the method of entry or attempted entry, which is a vehicle, and the offence can be recorded as a “commercial burglary” or other crime type which therefore makes automated collation more challenging as you need to search for the method the offenders used to gain entry. 

The second dataset is individually reviewed file data. The individually reviewed file dataset was created to determine the total number of retail and commercial locations that have experienced a ram raid occurrence. From this dataset, Police undertake further work to determine a subsequent subset of the data showing which of these retailers may be eligible for inclusion in the Retail Crime Prevention Programme. The individually reviewed file data contains data reviewed back to 1 January 2021.

Both data sets are drawn from the same near real time operational data sets, and therefore numbers in each can change depending on when the data is sourced. For instance, the ‘Ram Raids’ figures for June 2022 may change depending on whether the data was ‘pulled’ in July 2022 or January 2023 as operational information may have since been updated. Information provided should also be taken with the relevant caveats. 

Regularly updated ram raid data

Police updates the text search operational offence statistics in the last half of each month to include the statistics for the prior month. This data has been collected back to April 2017 to report against questions regarding historic and current volumes of Ram Raids.

OIA ‘ram raid’ official responses

Police has received multiple OIA requests for similar information on ram raids. In response we have developed two official responses (see links in the table below) as a response to all of these questions. The longer version covers requests for ram raid data prior to April 2017 (before retail location codes were established), and the shorter version for requests after April 2017 (following the establishment of a retail location code).

Information Request Number

Date Request Received



1 April – 29 June 2022

18 OIA requests for ram raid information across the following areas as follows;

  • Provision and analysis of national and regional ram raid data
  • Offender demographics
  • Prosecution data
  • Retailer demographics and victim profiles
  • Police intelligence reports

Please note: A ram raid is not an offence with its own offence code. In essence ram raids are commercial burglaries in which the means of entry is a vehicle. This makes collation of data problematic. The data is also drawn from a live data set that can change as investigations progress and hence the data, even for a similar period, can differ if analysed on two different days. From an operational perspective this is not an issue as the pattern of offences will be visible at the local and District level and policing deployment choices and investigations will follow. The data tables and graphs, are produced to provide some insights into this issue at a national level. However, the graphs are indicative due to there being no offence code, as the data was collated by text mining free-text fields – i.e., searching for certain text in the narrative describing the incident. This is an inherently less accurate approach and provides less robust data than using pre-set fields. Any additional text that is added by an officer at the scene, or subsequently during the investigation, is subjective, and can be entered inconsistently from one incident to the next and from one officer to the next. It is therefore possible that ram raid style burglaries were missed due to the key words not being included in the free text. Conversely, the figures may also include incidents that were related but not actually ram raid style burglaries in and of themselves (e.g., receiving stolen property, or a person acting suspiciously prior to a ram raid style burglary). At a national scale, some of this weakness in the data is likely to be averaged out, but the graphs provided remain indicative as accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The NIC Scanning Report was prepared drawing on the same text mining methodology but also involved a manual process which checked occurrences over a 12 month period (November 2020 – October 2021) taking considerable time and resource to complete. This approach was undertaken in order to improve the accuracy of this report and to support informed decision making across Police regarding ram raid style burglaries at that point in time. Please note that the data for the same time period in the graphs differs slightly due to the variation in analytical approach outlined above and the two analytical processes being conducted at different times. This difference reinforces the caveats given above.