Criminal Law

Robbery

  • Firearm
  • Knife or Cutting Instrument
  • Other Dangerous Weapon
  • Strong-arm—Hands, Fists, Feet, etc.

Definition: 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.

Robbery is a vicious type of theft in that it is committed in the presence of the victim. The victim, who usually is the owner or person having custody of the property, is directly confronted by the perpetrator and is threatened with force or is put in fear that force will be used. Robbery involves a theft or larceny but is aggravated by the element of force or threat of force.

Because some type of assault is an element of the crime of robbery, an assault must not be reported as a separate crime as long as it was performed in furtherance of the robbery. However, if the injury results in death, a homicide offense must be reported.

Armed robbery, categories 3a, 3b, and 3c, includes incidents commonly referred to as stickups, hijackings, holdups, heists, carjackings, etc. Carjackings are robbery offenses in which a motor vehicle is taken through force or threat of force. In such cases, following the Hierarchy Rule, agencies must report only a robbery, not a motor vehicle theft. Robberies wherein only personal weapons, such as hands, fists, and feet, are used (3d) or threatened to be used may be referred to as strong-arms or muggings.

The UCR Program considers a weapon to be a commonly known weapon (a gun, knife, club, etc.) or any other item which, although not usually thought of as a weapon, becomes one in the commission of a crime. Reporting agencies must classify crimes involving pretended weapons or those in which the weapon is not seen by the victim, but the robber claims to possess one, as armed robbery (3a, 3b, and 3c). Should an immediate on-view arrest prove that there is no weapon involved, the agency must classify the offense as strong-arm robbery (3d).

Law enforcement must guard against using the public's terminology such as "robbery of an apartment" or "safe robbery" when classifying a robbery offense, inasmuch as the public is referring to a burglary situation.

Robbery—Firearm

Robbery—Firearm (3a) includes robberies in which any firearm is used as a weapon or employed as a means of force to threaten the victim or put the victim in fear. Attempts are included in this category.

The following scenarios illustrate incidents known to law enforcement that reporting agencies must classify as Robbery—Firearm (3a):

  1. A man came to a victim's door and asked to use the phone. After being admitted to the residence, he pulled a gun and demanded money. He took the victim's money and fled. The police have yet to apprehend the suspect.
  2. A lone male with a gun appeared in a tavern and ordered ten patrons and the owner to hand over their cash and jewelry. After obtaining their possessions, the man left.
  3. Four individuals planned to rob a local supermarket. One of the group informed the police. On the appointed day, the four walked in the front door of the market armed with handguns. They were all arrested. The informant was released for cooperating.
  4. A person with a shotgun entered a rural grocery store and ordered the clerk to hand over the cash. The clerk complied. The suspect ran out of the store to a waiting car. The clerk notified the police. The police spotted the suspect's vehicle and engaged in a high-speed chase. They apprehended a 17-year-old suspect.

Robbery—Knife or Cutting Instrument

The category Robbery—Knife or Cutting Instrument (3b) includes robberies in which a knife, broken bottle, razor, ice pick, or other cutting or stabbing instrument is employed as a weapon or as a means of force to threaten the victim or put the victim in fear. Attempts are included in this category.

The following scenarios illustrate incidents known to law enforcement that reporting agencies must classify as Robbery—Knife or Cutting Instrument (3b):

  1. A lone male approached a car stopped at a traffic light. The male brandished a knife and ordered the driver of the car to get out of the vehicle. She complied, and the male then jumped into the car and drove away, leaving the car owner frightened but unhurt. The woman called the police.
  2. A man was walking down the street when an assailant grabbed him and held a broken bottle to his throat. While the assailant was attempting to remove the victim's wallet from his pocket, the police arrived and arrested the assailant.

Robbery—Other Dangerous Weapon

The category Robbery—Other Dangerous Weapon (3c) includes robberies in which a club, acid, explosive, brass knuckles, Mace, pepper spray, or other dangerous weapon is employed or its use is threatened. Attempts are included in this category.

The following scenarios illustrate incidents known to law enforcement that reporting agencies must classify as Robbery—Other Dangerous Weapon (3c):

  1. Two men accosted a third, an acquaintance, in an alley near a bar. They beat him severely with a club and took his wallet containing several hundred dollars. The victim reported the incident to the police. No arrest was made.
  2. A woman robbed a jewelry store by threatening to detonate a bomb. Two store employees managed to detain the suspect until the police arrived. The subject was arrested.
  3. While a motorist was stopped at an intersection, a man armed with a canister of Mace forcibly removed her from her convertible. The man got into the vehicle and drove away. The motorist suffered several cuts and bruises in the confrontation. The police were unable to locate the offender or the vehicle.

Robbery—Strong-arm—Hands, Fists, Feet, Etc.

The category of Robbery—Strong-arm—Hands, Fists, Feet, etc., (3d) includes muggings and similar offenses in which only personal weapons such as hands, arms, feet, fists, and teeth are employed or their use is threatened to deprive the victim of possessions.

In the absence of force or threat of force, as in pocket-picking or purse-snatching, the offense must be classified as larceny-theft rather than robbery. However, if in a purse-snatching or other such crime, force or threat of force is used to overcome the active resistance of the victim, the offense must be classified as strong-arm robbery (3d).

The following scenarios illustrate incidents known to law enforcement that reporting agencies must classify as Robbery—Strong-arm (3d):

  1. During a purse-snatching, a thief shoved a woman to the ground and took her purse. The thief escaped.
  2. A juvenile was observed by a store security guard concealing compact discs under his shirt. When he was confronted, the youth punched the security guard and fled the store, leaving the compact discs behind.