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Bank Robberies by an Asian Gang: An Assessment of the Routine Activities Theory

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 46 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2002 Pages: 555-568
John Z. Wang
Date Published
October 2002
14 pages
This article examines whether the routine activities theory can be used to explain the casual factors in six Asian bank robberies that occurred in a major southern city.
The author begins by explaining that bank robberies committed by Asian offenders are rare occurrences. However, six bank robberies committed by Asian offenders were reported within an 11-month period in a major southern city in the United States. The author attempts to explain the causal factors of these robberies using the routine activities theory. The routine activities theory contends that there is a strong relationship between the crime rate and the environmental context in which the crimes take place. The basic tenets of this theory hold that the daily routine activities of specific populations have an impact on the availability of targets and, thus, shape the crime rate. According to this theory, crimes are impacted by the convergence of (a) the presence of offenders, (b) the availability of suitable targets, and (c) the absence of capable guardians for those targets. When the routine activities theory is applied to the Asian bank robberies, the author shows how the bank robberies resulted from a motivated supply of offenders, coupled with the availability of suitable targets and a lack of capable guardians for those targets. The author notes that while these Asian bank robberies can be explained using existing criminological theories, the study presents a new theoretical debate, namely, are Asian gangs different from other ethnic gangs in terms of their criminal patterns? The author recommends further studies on Asian bank robberies, coupled with comparative studies with available data. Tables, notes, references


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