Northeast Ohio smash and grab robberies and burglaries are victimizing multiple area convenience stores every week, as crooks drive stolen vehicles into store fronts to get to ATM machines.
The crime wave is jeopardizing the safety of customers and store employees, disrupting business, and causing thousands in store damage.
Often the criminals use stolen vehicles to plow into the stores and make their getaway.
District 24 state Senator Tom Patton has kept close watch on this growing crime epidemic, and is now introducing Senate Bill 355.
Patton told News 5 the measure is calling for regulations requiring the ATM be placed in the store along a brick or concrete wall.
Patton explained the bill also includes regulations on how the ATM is secured to the floor and how much money is kept inside the machine.
"When they can virtually see the ATM through the window, they just smash through the window, grab it, and throw it in the back of the truck and they go," said Patton.
"It's for the grace of God that nobody has died yet, but it's just a matter of time. These smash and grabs are a real danger."
Store manger Muneer Jayber explained how his Lorain Avenue New Wave Market in Cleveland sustained heavy damage during a Sept. 29 smash and grab incident.
Jayber told News 5 he believes the vast majority of store owners would support the new law, placing greater requirements on stores and the companies that place the ATM's in the businesses.
Patton said he hopes to have Senate hearings on the bill this coming November, with a potential fast track vote on the measure before the end of the year.
"Hopefully this measure will say, you know what, now they've taken what was easy for us to do and they've made it virtually impossible for us to do," said Patton.
"That's how we're going to help stop this crime."