Ram raids "tripled" across the Bay of Plenty between 2019 and 2021, police say.
One local leader fears the changes needed to curb the offending won't be made until someone pays the ultimate price.
It comes as two businesses were ram raided within the last week.
Bay of Plenty Police district manager intelligence Inspector Brendon Keenan said most ram raids were committed by groups of two or more male offenders aged between 14 and 19.
"Offenders can be as young as 12 years old," Keenan said.
"The additional concern with this is the young offenders often have an inability to drive safely."
Keenan said indicative figures show the number of ram raids has "approximately tripled" between 2019 and 2021.
"Many of the youths who are committing these ram raids live within the district."
Keenan said cross-border offending was also prevalent as offenders often travel in convoy to the location of the crime.
"From January 2019, there has been a significant amount of ram raids in the Bay of Plenty district [with a large spike in] 2021."
Keenan said "nearly always" ram raids were committed by offenders driving vehicles that had been stolen.
In 2022, Keenan said police had observed fewer ram raids than the previous year.
This comes as Western Bay of Plenty and Waikato police launched Operation Pryor to turn the tables on the rise in vehicle thefts in the wider Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
Keenan said common models stolen were Ford Courier, Mazda Atenza, Mazda Demio, Toyota Aqua and Nissan Tiida.
"The vehicles are generally recovered a short time after the offence."
Keenan said motivations for the crimes included exchanging stolen property for drugs and seeking prestige by offenders posting videos of themselves committing the ram raids.
A ram raid in October forced Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell to close his family business Campbell's Meats after 47 years.
"We didn't have insurance on the building because the land is earthquake-prone," Campbell said.
"The [ram raid] cost me and my family between $400,000 and $500,000.
"We've lost five full-time employees, that's the worst of it."
Campbell said he also feared for the future if the rise in ram raids continued.
"Somebody's going to die."
Four Square Papamoa was one of the latest victims of a ram raid break-in on Tuesday last week.
Police received a report of a burglary at the Golden Sands Drive premises about 4.30am on April 26.
It was believed a number of items were stolen and inquiries were ongoing.
Four Square Papamoa Beach was contacted for comment.
Distraught Mount Maunganui butcher Doug Jarvis was still counting the cost of the latest burglary at his store in the early morning of April 23.
Jarvis said two disguised burglars wearing scarves over their faces, hooded tops and gloves were captured on CCTV carrying out their crimes.
He said after breaking into the outdoor storage area, the burglars put a rope around the towbar of their car to drag a chiller and prised security bolts off it but found it was empty.
Jarvis said they then smashed their way through the back door and took about $500 to $600 of meat from the main chiller including frozen sausages and pet mince.
"I'm still waiting for the contractors to come and assess the full extent of the damage they left behind but the repairs are likely to cost thousands of dollars."
Jarvis said this was the second burglary at his Mount Maunganui store within two weeks.
On April 11, a young woman wearing a hoodie, sunglasses and face mask ran into the
store and snatched a small sirloin of meat worth about $60 and ran off, he said.
Jarvis said on April 12, a man wearing a mask entered his Papamoa store and helped himself to a $110 piece of eye fillet from the chiller and calmly walked out of the store.
The theft set off the alarms and when the man was confronted by staff, he swore at them before he ran off, Jarvis said.
• School van used to ram raid local dairy
• 'We thought the house was coming down': Hamurana Store devastated by ram raid
• Grand Theft Loader: Man who stole 20-tonne loader to ram raid bank imprisoned
Jarvis said given the number of times he has been targeted by thieves in the past two to three years his insurance premiums keep going up.
"It's not just the stolen meat but it's the aftermath which is taking a real toll on me. I'm normally a pretty strong person but this break-in has left me badly shaken and very stressed.
"I don't know why I keep being targeted in this way...It's like a kick in the guts.
"At the moment I'm having to work seven days a week just to keep my head above water. I just managed to scrape my way through the Covid lockdowns and now this happens.
"After being targeted again I'm almost at breaking point. I've had sleepless nights since and cannot understand what have I done to deserve all this."