Six premises were attacked in little over two hours in the early hours of Wednesday across the region by offenders who prised open security shutters before smashing their way inside.
The premises attacked were in Willenhall, Darlaston, Bentley and Coseley.
In one attack, at RS News in Wolverhampton Street, in Willenhall, at around 2.10am – where a silver VW Passat estate car was used to ram open the shutters.
Around 10 minutes later after the raid at RS News, a man was arrested following a failed break-in at Nisa in Brackendale Shopping Centre, off Stroud Avenue, in Willenhall. Officers from West Midlands, responding to the raids, chased a man down an alleyway before a police dogs tracked to him hiding in bushes near Whitminster Close. The 20-year-old has been released under investigation while enquiries progress.
Detectives believe there were two sets of linked offences – and are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.
Detective Sergeant Julian Hawley, from West Midlands Police, said: “In two raids offenders made off with cash, alcohol and cigarettes – but they left largely empty handed in the others.
“We believe there are two groups of offenders, including one that used a silver Passat estate to commit offences.
“That car was used to ram shop shutters so will have suffered rear end damage. If anyone has seen a silver Passat with rear damage I would urge them to get in touch.”
The first report officers received was of men attacking shop defences at Saver Express in Clarence Street, Upper Gornal, at around 12.45am. They made off in a Passat having been disturbed by a neighbour.
Other offences followed at R&A News in The Green, Darlaston, and McColls newsagents in Churchill Road, Bentley, before the Wolverhampton Street ram raid.
Wallbrook Mini Mart in Wallbrook Street, Coseley, was also attacked just after 3am by men who escaped with money, cigarettes and alcohol.
Rajenra Patel, who runs RS News, in Willenhall, which was targeted, said they stole around £4,000 worth of cigarettes. He said: "It was around 2am you can see five of them, we got it on CCTV. They rammed into the shop, they reversed into it around five times – all the shutters caved in.
"They have stolen a lot of cigarettes from inside. Around £4,000 worth – they cleared out the stock.
"How do you feel? You work all your life and this happens – it's not very nice. There's a lot of crime about, the same night our shop was targeted so were five others. If they want to break in they will do it anyway they can.
"What can I say, I hope they will catch them all. It will cost a lot to repair the damage – we need new shop front and shutters, they will have to do work inside and replace the stock."
Farida Begum, who owns Savers Express in Upper Gornal, heard the offenders trying to break in at 1.50am. She said: "I was awake and I could hear the shutters banging. I thought it was people delivering the papers at first. I saw four men get out of a car and start trying to break in – I banged on the window but they just ignored me.
"They broke the shutter first and then the window. They were wearing balaclavas and had hammers.They saw we were up and shouting that the police were coming and they drove off.
"It was very scary we have our two grandchildren here, they were scared because we were shouting.
"We have been here 12 years and had nothing like this happen before. It was really scary, were were shouting but they just carried on like we did not matter. If they had got in and come in, we live upstairs."
While West Midlands Police confirmed they are investigating whether the raids are connected with two raids carried out in the early hours of Tuesday in Wombourne and Great Wyrley, which were reported by Staffordshire Police.
The first break-in occurred at about 12:30am on Tuesday at the store on Common Road, Wombourne. Offenders are believed to have disabled the CCTV outside the store before removing a section of the metal shutter and smashing the glass door behind in order to enter the premises. They stole a quantity of cigarettes, leaving a trail of cigarettes behind them as they exited, travelling in the direction of Blakeley Heath.
The second break-in happened a short time later at a Costcutter store in Great Wyrley. Officers were called to the Walsall Road store at about 2:20am to reports of four men in a black car attempting to ram-raid the shop. Two offenders are believed to have then used a crow bar to open the shutter and smash the glass door to enter the store. They filled a bag with cigarettes before leaving the premises, travelling in the direction of the A34 towards Cannock.
Anyone with information about the raids in the Black Country is urged to call West Midlands Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 20WS/256701Q/20.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org