I. Introduction

II. Measuring Robbery in the United States

III. Robbery Consequences: Death, Injury, and Losses

IV. Robbery and Weapon Choices

V. Victim Resistance and Robbery

VI. Robbery Types

VII. Robbery and Correlates

VIII. Perspectives on Robbers’ Attitudes and Lifestyles

IX. Explaining Robbery

X. Conclusion and Bibliography

I. Introduction

The crime of robbery is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, 2002) as “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.” Concern over this crime and its consequences is so ubiquitous that Daniel Defoe, of Robinson Crusoe fame, opined about it hundreds of years ago. In the more modern era, some robbers were given heroic status, including Billy the Kid and, to some extent, John Dillinger and other outlaws who robbed banks in the 1930s.

The crime bridges the gap of violence and property crime as it, by definition, features a face-to-face confrontation between the perpetrator and the victim. The amount of violence and coercion that occurs in the context of robbery, however, varies quite widely across events that are labeled as robberies.

In this research paper, the measurement of robbery, robbery-homicides, victimization and its consequences, as well as types of robbery and robbers, are explored. As will become clear, the underlying phenomenon labeled as robbery is quite varied. Robbing banks, for example, requires a somewhat different approach from robbing a drug dealer. The outcomes of this crime, from reporting to authorities to clearing the crime by an arrest, are highly dependent upon the nature of the targeted victim. Similarly, a street robbery that features a gun will likely provoke different responses from a victim compared to one that features a perpetrator with no convincing means of making a lethal threat. Such robbers may instead have to rely on assaults to convince victims that they “mean business.” These important dimensions of robbery are explored in detail below.

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