One of the alarming crime statistics to emerge recently is car thefts. According to an analysis of federal crime data in major cities by the Council on Criminal Justice, there has been a 67% Increase in motor-vehicle thefts between 2019 and 2022.
Stealing a car and selling it is a complicated business, involving VIN numbers and titles. More likely young hoodlums hijack a car – sometimes when it’s occupied by its owner, who is thrown out in the street, then joy riding and abandoning it, often wrecking it in the process.
Now a new car theft crime has appeared. It’s called “ram raiding.” The hoodlums steal a car, ram it through a storefront, loot ATMs, guns and other valuables inside and get away in another car or on foot. The car owner has a wreck on his hands, and the retailer has lost the valuables stolen and also the storefront. The more this happens, the higher the insurance premiums for the property.
But this is not just an economic crime. It’s a hallmark of social disintegration, where more and more people feel themselves exposed to unpredictable random violence, against which there is little public defense.
I don’t have a good solution for this, but I am reminded of the Korean-American shop owners in the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles. They camped out in their stores, with shotguns. The rioters quickly learned not to invade those stores.