Australian Institute of Criminology

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Service station armed robberies continue to rise

Media Release

20 July 2009

Service stations are becoming increasingly victimised by criminals to the extent that they are now the targets of 10 percent of all armed robberies in Australia.

According to the Service station armed robbery in Australia paper released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) there was a 31 percent increase in the number of service station armed robberies between 2004-06, continuing a trend which during the 1990s saw the incidence of such robberies increase by 214 percent.

Peter Homel, Manager of the AIC Crime reduction and review program, said the paper found service stations were particularly vulnerable to armed robbery because of their extended opening hours, sale of cigarettes and other consumable goods, high volume of cash transactions and isolation from other businesses.

"The study found service stations were most likely to be targeted at night by lone offenders (70% of incidents) using knives (57%)," Mr Homel said.

The most common item stolen during these robberies was cash (83%), followed by cigarettes. The average value of property stolen was $643.

"Offenders were usually male and around 23 years old. Young offenders were found to target service stations more frequently than any other businesses."

The paper showed that offenders who targeted service stations were more likely to be opportunistic offenders who undertook little if any planning.

The paper also suggests that widespread adoption of crime prevention countermeasures such as transfer trays and closed circuit television could reduce the rate of armed robbery at service stations.

Approximately one-third of armed robbery victims at service stations who had property or cash stolen were individuals such as staff and customers with the remainder being the organisation itself.

AIC media contact: Caterina Giugovaz. Telephone: 02 6260 9226; Mobile: 0418 159 525.