up. Like we'd time each other—three minutes, in and out in three minutes. I like the noise of the alarm bells ringing . . . it's good.
Twenty subjects chose to define themselves as ramraiders, and eight had engaged in other professional activities as well (two stripped cars, two ringed cars, four sold to receivers). As might be expected, they were also more experienced: 13 out of 20 having been involved for at least four years. From subjects' accounts, it appeared that the concept of ramraiding embraced both organised money making and thrill to some degree, but cither way it seems linked to progression in the car crime career. If ramraiding is classified as a 'professional' thieving activity and added to the other profit-making activities described by subjects, a total of 47 per cent of the whole sample could be seen as having engaged in professional car crime.1
There was some evidence that ramraiding was more common in the North of England sample, but numbers were too small to draw firm claims.
Changing motives in career progression
While the main incentives to begin stealing cars were seen to be the example of peers, boredom and potential excitement, it is clear that the motivational underpinnings become more complex as the theft career progresses. Typically, after about a year, skills seem to have improved sufficiently to allow thieves to steal better cars, and with greater speed. For many (45), these improved skills are harnessed to increase the thrill of theft. But for at least a third of thieves, they are also a means of turning theft into financial gain. In other words, while expressive needs are still part of the equation, there is a shift in balance towards instrumental needs.
The distinction between taking cars for the thrill of driving and taking them primarily to earn money is reflected in the fact those who do it for money were often highly critical of joyriders:
They realise they're twats. I mean what they're doing up in Birmingham and Manchester . . . it's stupid looking for police chases. It's making it harder for people like me who make a living out of it.
A lot of people take cars just to drive around to joyride but they don't think positive like where are they going to get some money from.
This picture is supported by answers to a specific question on the main reason for persisting in car crime. Figure 3.3 looks at the motives of those who had at least one year's experience in car crime, the point around which competence appeared to improve.
Clearly, for many (42%), money has now overtaken 'the buzz' and having 'nothing else to do' as the main feature of continued involvement in car crime.
1 Eight out of 20 ramraiders, as said, were already included in oiher professional categories (which they were more likely to engage in than ramraiding). They are, of course, counted only once.