Documents revealed 518 percent increase in ram raids, one-in-five offenders under 13

The scale of the spike in ram raids has been laid out in internal police documents obtained by Newshub.

In the first six months of this year, there have been 254 ramraids  - that's a 518 percent increase on the first six months of 2018. 

A police report analysing a year of ram raids found 76 percent were committed by youths under 17 years old and 17 percent were under 13 years old.

From cars barging into malls, a 7-tonne digger ploughing into a petrol station, to liquor shop owners arming themselves, ram raids have been on the rise. 

To find out why, police compiled a year's worth of data until the end of October last year. Obtained by Newshub, the report found that of the 283 ram raids, police had identified offenders in 42 percent of the cases and enforcement action was taken in 37 percent.

Thirty-eight repeat offenders were responsible for about a quarter of the ram-raids and almost one in five of the offenders were under 13.

"There is a challenge, and there's a challenge because of the age and because of some of the criteria we must meet within the legislation to be able to take action," said Andrew Mortimore, the Acting Waikato District Commander.

Just 4 percent of offenders were patched gang members and a further 5 percent had known gang associations. But the report noted an "increasing presence of youth gangs".

"In some instances, young people are committing this offence to service debt or to act on behalf of other people who have debt or may be enticing them to commit this type of offending," said Mortimore.

Whatever the motive, National wants more penalties

"It's basically do nothing. Basically sit around, have a conference, tag and release, then do it all again next weekend," said National justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith. 

Police Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement that youth offending, including ram raids, was a complex long-term issue. He's stepping up the focus on steering young people off the road to crime by keeping them in school and engaged in meaningful activities.

Youth worker Aaron Hendry said youth offending comes down to growing inequality.

"Many of them are experiencing poverty, experiencing homelessness and we haven't as a society provided the right supports," he said. 

He wants the conversation to change.

"We know that the tough on crime rhetoric has no teeth to it. It doesn't create safer outcomes for our communities, it doesn't prevent crime. All it does is punish people after victims have been made."

More ram raids making more victims.