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Robbery in the United States - An Analysis of Recent Trends and Patterns

NCJ Number
P J Cook
Date Published
37 pages
This report presents a framework for analyzing the potential effects of a variety of policy interventions aimed at robbery. National Crime Survey (NCS) and FBI data indicate that robbery rates peaked in 1975 and, after a brief decline, were climbing again by 1979. In 1981, one-third of all robberies occurred in the six largest cities.
A recent survey of crime in the Nation's junior and senior high schools estimated that there were 1 million robberies per year in these schools, exceeding the corresponding NCS estimate by a factor of 30. Direct economic losses to robbery victims (not including murders) are only about $.33 billion, but this number very much underestimates robberies' total social cost. During the last 25 years, the number of bank robberies has been growing with extraordinary rapidity. The 56-percent increase between 1975 and 1980 represents its slowest rate of growth since 1957. A recent survey of prison inmates found that among those who reported committing robberies in the 3 years prior to their incarceration, the median annual commission rate was 4.8 and the 90th percentile rate was 86. Most active robbers commit various other crimes as well. Also discussed are weapon use in robbery, characteristics of robbers and their victims, robbery careers, and an overview of the robbery process. One figure, 20 tables, and about 110 references are supplied. (Author abstract modified)