BC Crime Trends - Robbery - March 2000

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                           BC CRIME TRENDS
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What is Robbery?                           crimes include homicide, attempted
                                                                                             robberies decreased. The total
A robbery is a theft where the                                                               number of robberies reported in
                                           murder, sexual and non-sexual
offender uses violence or the threat                                                         1998 was 4% less than reported in
                                           assault, robbery and abduction.
of violence against a victim with the                                                        1997 and 10% less than reported in
                                           Although robbery represented only
intent to steal from him or her. It is                                                       1996.
                                           1% of total Criminal Code
an indictable offence punishable by        offences reported during 1998, it                 Similarly, the robbery rate peaked
a maximum penalty of life                  represented 11% of all reported                   in 1996 at 1.6 robberies per 1,000
imprisonment.                              violent crimes.                                   persons and has been declining
Robbery offence data are grouped                                                             since that time.
                                           There were 5,700 robberies
into three categories: robbery with        reported to the police in B.C.                    Preliminary crime data indicate that
firearms, robbery with other               during 1998. This translates to a                 both the total number of robberies
offensive weapons (such as knives,         rate of 1.4 robberies per 1,000                   and the robbery rate have
baseball bats, etc.) and other             persons.                                          continued to decline during 1999.
robbery. "Other" robbery includes          Of the total number of reported                   Despite these recent declines,
assault with the intent to steal           robberies during 1998, 3,000 were                 between 1989 and 1998, the overall
(mugging) and stopping a mail              "other" robberies, 1,800 were                     number of reported robberies
conveyance with the intent to rob          robberies committed with the use                  increased by more than 2,300
or search it.                              of weapons other than firearms,                   offences or 70%. In comparison,
Unlike other violent crimes in which       and 900 were robberies committed                  the total population of B.C.
an offence is counted for every            with the use of firearms.                         increased by 25% during the same
victim, only one robbery offence is                                                          time period.
                                           In 1998, 29% of robberies were
counted in official crime statistics       cleared (solved). This clearance
regardless of the number of victims        rate is comparable to previous
                                                                                             Robbery in Canada
in an incident. (Notably, recent           years.                                            Canada’s robbery rate was 0.9 per
research findings indicate that more                                                         1,000 persons in 1998, 3% less than
than 80% of robbery offences               Almost 29% of persons charged                     during 1997. Between 1989 and
involve only one victim.)                  with robbery during 1998 were                     1998, the average robbery rate
                                           young offenders.                                  reported in Canada was 1.04
In contrast to other violent
offences, victims of robbery usually                                                         robberies per 1,000 persons.
                                           10-year Trends
do not know their assailant.
                                           After remaining
On average, robberies account for                                  Figure 1: Number of Robbery Offences in B.C., 1989-1998
                                           relatively                                         By Type of Robbery
approximately 10% of all reported
                                           constant                10,000
violent crimes and less than 1% of
                                           throughout the
total reported crimes. Despite its                                              Robbery with Firearm
                                           1980s, the               8,000       Robbery with Other Weapon
low occurrence, robbery is among
                                           number of                            Other Robbery
those crimes most feared by the
                                           reported                 6,000
Robbery in B.C.                            increased                4,000
                                           steadily between
1998 Snapshot                              1990 and 1996.           2,000
                                           Beginning in
During 1998, 11% of all Criminal           1997, however,              0
                                                                            1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Code offences reported in B.C.             the number and
were categorized as violent. These         rate of

                                      ROBBERY, BC CRIME TRENDS, MARCH 2000, ISSUE #3.                                           page 1

Nearly 29,000 robberies were
reported in Canada during 1998,                                                 Figure 2: Robbery Crime Rate, 1989-1998
accounting for one in 10 violent                                                       Comparison of Rates for B.C. and Canada

crimes. Approximately 36% of                                              2
persons charged with robbery
during 1998 were young offenders.                                                                                      &       &
                                                                         1.5               &            &      &                     &

                                                     Per 1,000 persons
                                                                                                 &                                             &

How Does B.C. Compare                                                     1 &
                                                                                           )     )
                                                                                                        )      )       )       )     )         )

with Canada?
Between 1989 and 1998, B.C.'s
average robbery rate was 1.41 per
1,000 persons, which is 40% higher                                        1989    1990   1991   1992   1993   1994   1995    1996   1997   1998
than Canada's average robbery                                                                        ) Canada & B.C.

rate of 1.04 per 1,000 persons.
The robbery rate for B.C. has been       occurred in convenience stores; 7%                                          Approximately one-third of the
consistently higher than the national    occurred at banks; while 6%                                                 surveyed incidents were cleared
average since 1989, with a larger        occurred in gas stations.                                                   by charge (solved) and the
gap existing today than reported a       Half of the surveyed incidents                                              remaining two-thirds were not
decade ago. Unlike B.C.’s                involved an accused acting alone,                                           cleared (unsolved). An accused
robbery rate, which continuously         while 28% of incidents involved                                             was not identified in most of the
increased until 1996, the national       two accused persons. In eight out                                           incidents that were unsolved.
rate generally showed a decline          of ten surveyed incidents the
after peaking in 1991.                   accused was male. Of those
The proportion of firearm-related        incidents where the accused                                               Figure 3: Highlights of the Robbery Survey Findings
robberies for both B.C. and              was identified, 30% were
Canada peaked in 1991 and has            young offenders, 32% were                                                          % home invasions       3%

continuously declined since that         between 18 and 25 years and                                           % occurring on street/roadway                   33%

time.                                    15% were between 26 and 39                                                          % male accused                                        80%

During 1998, young offenders             years.                                                               % accused between 18 and 25                      32%

accounted for a smaller proportion       In the surveyed incidents, two-                                                      % male victims                                 66%
of persons charged with robbery in       thirds of the victims were male                                        % victims between 11 and 20                   27%
B.C. (29%) as compared to                and one-third were female.                                                    % where weapon used                            50%
Canada (36%).                            Approximately 27% of victims
                                                                                                                               % not cleared                                 66%
                                         were between 11 and 20 years
Robbery Survey Results                   of age, and 21% were between                                                                      0%           20%     40%    60%     80%       100%

Police Services Division conducted       21 and 30 years of age. An
a survey of robbery incidents            additional 23% of victims were
reported to provincial law               between 31 and 45 years. A lone                                             Even though 8% of incidents
enforcement agencies during 1996.        victim was involved in 81% of                                               occurred in a home, the police
One of the purposes of the survey        incidents while 13% of robberies                                            indicated in only 3% of the
was to determine the extent of           involved two victims.                                                       surveyed incidents that the robbery
home invasions occurring within          A weapon was used in                                                        was a home invasion.
the province. In total, 927              approximately one-half of the
incidents, involving 1,600 accused       surveyed incidents. Of these
and 1,150 victims, were examined.        incidents, a firearm was used 27%
The survey findings reveal that          of the time while a knife was used
33% of robberies occurred on a           in another 41% of incidents.
street, road or highway. An              When goods were stolen during the
additional 9% occurred in other          robbery, the value of the goods was
outdoor areas including parks,           estimated at less than $500 in
school grounds and parking lots;         approximately 72% of the surveyed
8% occurred in homes; 8%                 incidents.

  page 2                             ROBBERY, BC CRIME TRENDS, MARCH 2000, ISSUE #3.

Home Invasion in B.C.
                                        Magnitude of Home Invasion                   Young Offenders Act to ensure
Defining Home Invasion                                                               tough sentences for home
Official crime statistics do not        In an attempt to measure the                 invaders. The federal justice
count home invasions as a               magnitude of home invasions in B.C.,         minister has recently agreed to
separate category of robbery            Police Services Division conducted an        consider changes to the Criminal
offences largely because the            informal survey of major municipal           Code to send a stronger message
Criminal Code does not have a           police departments and RCMP                  to would be perpetrators of home
specific section designated for         detachments in the province during           invasions.
home invasion offences.                 February 1999. Collectively, major
Three general categories of
                                        police agencies (excluding Richmond          In Summary ...
                                        and Vancouver) estimate that                 The total number of robberies
home invasions have been
                                        between 100 and 130 home invasions           and the robbery rate began to
identified in B.C. The common
                                        were perpetrated between January             decline in B.C. after 1996 and to
thread among these crimes is
                                        1995 and February 1999.                      decline in the rest of Canada
premeditated confrontation with
victims, coupled with the intent        The Vancouver Police Department              after 1991. The downward trend
to threaten or inflict violence, all    has collected data on home invasions         in robbery offences is consistent
of which occur within the homes         in their jurisdiction for some time and      with decreases in overall crime
of the victims.                         report that in the three-year period         reported in Canada and around
                                        between 1995 and 1998,                       the world.
Some home invasions can be
                                        approximately 60 home invasions              A survey of robbery offences in
characterized as residential
                                        were perpetrated against elderly             B.C. reveals that a “typical”
robberies, relying on tactics
                                        victims. In addition, the Vancouver          robbery is not a home invasion
similar to those used in extortion
                                        Police Department has recorded               but rather it occurs on a street,
schemes. The perpetrators are
                                        another 93 home invasions (not               road or highway and is committed
often Asian gang members who
                                        against elderly victims) since 1997.         by a male adult acting alone. The
target wealthy immigrant
families and overseas students          Richmond RCMP (not a participant in          victim is most likely to be a lone
from the same cultural                  the survey) estimate that they annually      male adult. In about half of the
background.                             investigate 10 to 12 incidents of home       incidents a weapon is used, but
                                        invasion in their jurisdiction.              the weapon is more likely to be a
Other home invasions are
                                        However, Richmond police                     knife than a firearm. Only one in
perpetrated by criminals against
                                        investigators believe that home              three robberies are cleared by
others within the criminal
                                        invasions perpetrated for economic           charge largely because victims
community. The targeted
                                        gain are seriously underreported             are unable to identify their
victims are generally involved in
                                        because victims fear retribution             assailants.
illegitimate activities. These
                                        against either themselves or members         Home invasions account for a
home invasions may be carried
                                        of their families.                           very small proportion of robberies
out to gain access to illegal drugs
or proceeds of crime from                                                            reported to the police. However,
illegitimate activities, or as          B.C.'s Response to Home Invasion             home invasion offences have
symbolic gestures to reinforce          In partnership with the RCMP and             prompted public concern and fear
the power of a group within the         municipal police agencies in the             because of the unique predatory
criminal community.                     Lower Mainland, the Ministry of              nature of these crimes.
Finally, some home invasions            Attorney General has developed the
target the elderly. These crimes        brochure, Protect yourself from
often involve the exercise of           Home Invasion, to help improve the
physical power and intimidation.        safety of homes and neighborhoods in
                                        the province. For a copy of the
                                        brochure, please visit
                                        The B.C. government has also
                                        requested that the federal government
                                        amend the Criminal Code and the

                                       ROBBERY, BC CRIME TRENDS, MARCH 2000, ISSUE #3.                           page 3

Data Qualifiers
The crime data contained in this report represent only those crimes reported to (or discovered by) police which
upon preliminary investigation, have been deemed to have occurred or been attempted. These data do not imply a
count of the number of charges laid, prosecutions conducted, informations sworn, or convictions obtained. The
crime data contained in this report have been recorded by the police on the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR)
Survey. Offences are scored according to the UCR Scoring Rules. If a single criminal incident contains a number
of violations of the law, then only the most serious one is recorded. However, with the exception of robbery
offences where one incident with multiple victims is scored as one offence, police record one offence for every
victim of a violent crime, i.e., homicide, attempted murder, sexual and non-sexual assault, and abduction.
Population figures used in this report are based on the results of the Canada Census which is conducted every five
years. Population figures for intervening years are estimated based on Census data.
The data contained in this report may vary when compared with previous reports produced by Police Services
Division. Where variance occurs, the report produced at the latest date will reflect the most current data available.
Victimization surveys indicate that a substantial number of crimes are never reported to the police. In spite of this,
victimization studies appear to support recent trends showing that the crime rate is declining.

Descroches, Frederick. Force and Fear: Robbery in Canada (1995). Nelson, Canada.
DuWors, Richard. “Robbery in Canada”, Juristat (Catalogue no. 85-002-XPE, Vol. 12, No.10).
Janhevich, Derek. “Violence Committed by Strangers”, Juristat (Catalogue no. 85-002-XPE, Vol.18, No.9).
Lee, Tracey. “Weapons and Violent Crime”, Juristat (Catalogue no. 85-002-XPE Vol. 17, No. 7).
Ministry of Attorney General, Police Services Division. Police & Crime, Summary Statistics, 1989-1998, Government of British Columbia.
Ministry of Attorney General. “British Columbia Presses Ottawa on Home Invasion Laws” Media Release, February 10, 1999 www.ag.gov.bc.ca.
Correctional Research and Development, Research Division. A Profile of Robbery Offenders in Canada (1995), Correctional Service of Canada.
Tremblay, Sylvain. “Crime Statistics in Canada, 1998”, Juristat (Catalogue no. 85-002-XPE, Vol. 19, No. 9).

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                         Current Police Services Division publications found on the
                              Police and Crime Summary Statistics, 1989-1998
                              BC Crime Trends - Issue #1 - Crime Rate
                                              - Issue #2 - Youth Crime

                                                   Ministry of Attorney General
                                                 Public Safety and Regulatory Branch
                                                       Police Services Division

  page 4                                   ROBBERY, BC CRIME TRENDS, MARCH 2000, ISSUE #3.

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