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Study finds residential armed robberies the most violent

Media release

10 September 2014

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released a report: Where and when: A profile of armed robbery by location, which analyses the characteristics of 627 armed robberies around Australia.

This study, which will assist in better crime prevention strategies around specific robbery contexts, captures common characteristics of armed robberies in four locations: domestic settings, public places, and both secure and insecure businesses. The report found that:

  • Residential armed robberies were more violent, were more likely to involve drugs and a high proportion of incidents involving offenders who were known to the victims. In total, 77 (12%) of narratives included in the final sample described an armed robbery in a private location. The most common weapon used by offenders during robberies in private spaces was a knife.
  • The most common characteristics of robbery in a public location, such as parks or footpaths, involved either one or two male offenders, armed with a knife, targeting a single, male victim. Opportunistic  weapons in such attacks included items such as branches, rocks and broken glass.
  • In total, 238 narratives described a robbery at an insecure business. While security measures – such as CCTV – might be present, they are less robust and less visible. The most common type of offenders were either single or pairs of males armed with knives. In almost all of the narratives, the offender approached the cashier or employee directly and made verbal demands for money and despite the absence of actual violence, offenders frequently used threats of force or violence to ensure employee cooperation.
  • Fifty narratives (8% of the total sample) described an armed robbery in a secure high cash-flow business such as a bank or licensed premises. Pairs or groups of three or more offenders/accomplices were common and mentioned in approximately 70 percent (n=35) of narratives describing an armed robbery at a secure business. Unlike other robberies, firearms were the most common weapon present during armed robberies of secure businesses, ranging from pistols and handguns to sawn-off shotguns.

“Understanding the unique characteristics of robberies as they occur in each location allows better tailoring of crime prevention strategies to the individual location or business, as well as how they affect the victim. This helps create a more proactive approach to preventing armed robbery,” research analyst, Georgina Fuller said.