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Robbery: Definition & Statistics

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  • 0:04 What Is Robbery?
  • 1:38 Types of Robbery
  • 3:31 Robbery Statistics
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Grossi

Dan is a retired police sergeant and has taught criminal justice and legal studies for 8 years. He has a Master's degree in Criminal Justice and is pursuing his PhD.

The term robbery conjures up images of a group of masked men storming into the bank with guns blazing. In reality, robbery includes any crime in which a suspect uses force or threats to remove property from a victim.

What Is Robbery?

Heather is walking to work when her world is turned upside down. From out of nowhere, a man approaches her from behind and places something against the small of her back. 'Give me your purse and no one gets hurt,' the stranger says. Heather hands over her purse, and the suspect disappears into a dark ally. She has just become a victim of robbery. What is robbery and why is it different than theft? How often do crimes like this happen? Let's find out.

In simple terms, robbery is the use of force or violence to steal someone's property. In order for the police and the courts to prove that a robbery occurred, they must prove certain elements of the crime. The elements of robbery are:

  • Taking: where something was actually taken
  • Property: which describes what was taken
  • Ownership: where the property must belong to someone else
  • Intent: Meaning the criminal must have the intent of permanently or temporarily depriving the victim of ownership
  • Violence or force: which involves either threat of violence or force or the actual use of violence or force. This can be verbal or in writing, and it can involve fists or some type of weapon.

It's the threat or use of violence or force that elevates a simple theft to a more serious robbery charge. For example, stealing $20 from a coworker is a petit theft, a misdemeanor crime. If you threaten to punch your coworker as you steal $20 from them, you have just committee the felony crime of robbery.

Types of Robbery

There are different types of robbery, each with their own specifics, including street robbery, bank robbery, home invasion, carjacking, and purse snatching, among others. Let's take a closer look at each of these types of robbery:

A street robbery is a robbery that occurs in public. The suspect approaches the victim and demands money or property. This demand is accompanied by a threat to do harm to the victim either through words or by displaying a weapon, such as a gun of a knife. In some cases, actual physical force will be used, and the suspect will beat, stab or even shoot the victim in order to steal the property.

A bank robbery is the similar to a street robbery, but the victim is the bank rather than an individual. Again, this crime can be committed through the threat of force or by using actual force.

Home invasion happens when the suspect forcefully enters another's residence and commits the crime inside the house instead of on the streets. Just like the street robbery, the victim may be threatened or actually harmed while money and other valuables are removed from the residence.

Carjacking happens when a suspect uses force or violence to steal a car. In this case, simply pulling the unwilling driver out of the car is considered enough force to fulfill the elements of robbery. Stealing a car when no one is in it is called grand theft auto.

Purse snatching: Purse snatching, also called mugging, is when the suspect approaches the victim and grabs the purse from the person's shoulder. In this crime, there is no certain requirement for the amount of force the suspect must use or the amount of resistance offered by the victim. Just the amount of force necessary to remove the purse from her shoulder is enough for a robbery charge.

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