Street robbery and theproblem of street robbery
This post addresses the topic of street robbery and examines the factors that contribute to its occurrence to help you analyze this type of dynamics of robbery crime in the local street and a starting point for reflection also on some dynamics in the formation.
When it comes to topics such as self-defense one of the most complex things to develop is the methodology based on a context that simulates as much as possible the conditions of a real aggression.
So the first thing to understand is how are the dynamics, times, places, clothing, visibility, etc. of when certain types of crimes occur to build situations and also adequate responses to be able to obtain the most important thing the safety of the victim through an escape anticipates the crime, a correct attitude to limit the damage or in extreme ratio fight to save one’s life or create a temporal space to use a weapon or flee.
Robbery is a criminal action, consisting in the theft of someone else’s mobile thing, carried out with violence or threats, in order to take possession of it: armed robbery; crime for the purpose of robbery; accused of robbery.; convicted of robbery are phrases of common use.
The theft or violent extortion of another person’s thing is one of the criminal actions typical of all societies of every age and can take on different levels of violence depending on the societies and places where the crimes are carried out.
For a number of reasons we have the opportunity to view thousands of videos of different crimes where it is possible to make detailed and statistical analysis of events.
This does not give a real certainty because each aggression has a story in itself and the variables are many but surely this allows you to have important information without having to live the misfortune of a direct experience of a robbery or an aggression that often takes place with cutting weapons, hidden weapons, improvised weapons or firearms But not only as we will see later in the post.
With this premise, street robbery is defined as a crime with the following five characteristics:
- The offender targets a victim
- The victim is a pedestrian and a stranger
- The offender attempts or carries out a theft of money or property
- The offender uses force or the threat of force against the victim
- The crime occurs in a public or semi-public place, such as in a street, alley, garage, public park, on or near public transport, or in the corridor of a shared apartment
Robbery consists of taking or attempting to subtract something of value from the care, custody or control of one or more persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”
Importantly, a street robbery does not necessarily have to involve a weapon, nor is it necessary for the offender to injure the victim.
There are several subtypes of street robbery whose frequency varies depending on the local circumstances of the place, city or neighborhood.
Among the most notorious crimes of street robbery are:
- Snatches (called “theft with snatch”)
- Robbery of migrant or away workers
- ATM robbery
- Robbery of drunk bar customers;
- Robbery of students (e.g. middle and high school students and university students)
- Robbery of passengers near public transport systems
- Robbery of tourists
- Robbery of taxi drivers
Street robbery is a common form of street crime and violent crime crimes between strangers.
This post “limits” itself to addressing the particular damage caused by street robberies perpetrated by strangers.
Problems related to street robbery not addressed directly in this post, since they have specific opportunity structures and require separate analysis and responses, include the following:
- Commercial robbery (e.g. robbery at banks, gas stations and convenience stores)
- Vehicle-related robbery (e.g., robbery of armored trucks and taxi drivers and car theft)
- Non-foreign street robberies (e.g., drug-related robberies, robberies by prostitutes and robberies by friends, relatives or spouses)
- Domestic invasions
- Theft-Theft (note that some police agencies may register the snatch as theft)
- Drug dealing and drug trafficking in open-air markets
Other posts in this series specific to these issues will be published.
Consider that however that any simulation you do you can never recreate the stress conditions of a real aggression but contextualizing the event in certain contexts can lead you to have a level of attention that can give you the advantage of not being surprised and already this can be very important.
- 2 How to react in case of robbery
- 2.1 Type of robbery
- 2.2 Some tips on how to behave during the robbery
- 2.3 How to avoid the danger of violence to the person
- 2.4 To negotiate and to contain the danger of violence to the person, it is necessary to take into account the following factors:
- 2.5 What to do after the robbery
- 2.6 Category robberies
- 2.7 Conclusions
The practice of self-defense techniques outside of real contexts makes absolutely no sense, physical and verbal techniques must be within a context.
As if they were designed to be used in that particular context and I’m not just talking about combat that still needs to be contextualized.
A work that does not consider this can never be categorized, nor defined as based on reality.
If you think about it, even combat sport is contextualized, you train in the ring or in space as in competitions, you use the timer to get used to managing time and energy, you train the techniques allowed and that are best suited to your strategy, using the equipment you have available, you make the most of the characteristics of the regulation and the sport you practice to take full advantage of it. Clearly for self-defense everything is more complicated because there are no rules of any kind but only to survive by fleeing or fighting psychologically or in extreme physically.
Practicing a knife or gun disarmament of a potential aggressor from a purely technical/theoretical point of view if someone points a gun at your head, then do this, or when someone threatens you with a knife, you use this technique etc., is a widely used approach in schools and courses of Krav Maga but it is not applicable in reality but it is a game that attracts many naïve practitioners who are fascinated by this cinematic vision of self-defense that is not far but very far from reality,
Those pre-packaged techniques only work for threats and attacks that take place within your school/training space, as this is the context in which you are practicing them.
If you want the training to be relevant, you need to create the correct and accurate context/scenario and effective threat analysis and trained decision-making along with the execution of the technique (or the decision not to apply a physical solution).
The illusion of reaction to a robbery
It is easy for an instructor to satisfy a student’s desire to always be able to physically control a potentially violent situation, but this is not always realistic and there are situations in which you have to stand still pandering to the robber(s) and escape if you have the chance.
It is wrong not to say irresponsible to modify reality so that every situation barks a physical and technical solution and that works in every scenario and context.
In this post you are reading how to analyze and research cases of street robberies/robberies, so that we can get a better idea of what such criminal actions actually look like, rather than simply trying to imagine how such crimes are committed and/or using anecdotal evidence from tales of friends and acquaintances that could be fictional episodes or cinematic tales of the story rather than actually being victims of a robbery.
Today, thanks to the collection of information, surveillance videos, etc., academic research is always “theory”, but it provides information that was previously based only on the story of victims and witnesses who are often not so reliable because it is a story distorted by strong stress.
My experiences of violence are limited to myself, and the contexts in which I have experienced violence and this cannot be enough when it comes to training.
For this reason, together with the team and friends in the security sector we have done research work in recent years that has allowed us to establish many common elements in the different robbery methodologies in order to have a realistic approach in training.
A researcher and a work team that interviews multiple victims of a particular crime, views footage and talks to those offenders who commit them, has access to many, many more experiences and many different contexts that are able to inform us about what the real world outside of our experiences seems.
You have to think like a robber if you want to understand!
Men rob men more
Statistics carried out in the UK and USA have found that 76% of victims of personal robberies and 94% of offenders were male, i.e. robberies are typically criminal actions between men.
There may be several reasons for this male predominance in this type of crime.
One of the reasons is that in many cases, when it comes to committing certain crimes, especially those involving violence, offenders are trying to establish and demonstrate “masculinity.”
While a crime such as street robbery may seem mainly motivated by the need to acquire goods, namely money, it is also an expressive crime in which the perpetrator comes to express an identity, which he created for himself, acquiring a sense of power and control over those who target and victimize.
This may require them to target men, rather than women.
Another reason may be due to “opportunity”.
Group robberies among young people
Some news stories have shown that in some cases the robberies were committed for recreational purposes, by groups (some formal others informal) of minors to remove us, as a means of entertainment.
Some specific analyses of this crime highlighted that this was especially true for groups of male adolescents and boys who targeted other peers they met as a means of establishing a reputation within the group, that is, there was an element of performance in these crimes.
The purpose is to pay for a burger, steal clothing, expensive phones but also to be the leaders of the group.
Some guys carry out assaults using pepper spray to make the victim softer while the group hits him and steals everything.
These groups, as they get older, often have a tendency to continue this criminal method with different purposes, they begin to commit street robberies as a means of generating money to buy alcohol and drugs, maintaining the same methods they used when they were younger, i.e. they already had a model on who to target (prey) and how they committed their crimes (robbery methods).
Other approaches in the premises are that of a cute girl who with a seductive excuse takes you out around the corner of the local and the guys carry out aggressions using pepper spray or hit you from behind and take you away phone, car keys, money, gold necklace, etc.
Even growing up it is worth noting that street robberies are not only about money, they are also used to establish identity, both for themselves and for the group because often robberies are made by two or more subjects.
Over 60% of all robberies are committed by two or more people, who are somehow related as relationship executing crimes together is a form of bond for those who did.
Although it may be tempting to suggest that there are big differences between street robberies in one country compared to another in reality it was not so, the common elements always remain.
When we start treating a street robbery as an expressive crime, rather than a purely instrumental one, there is much more at stake than just a wallet etc.
The analysis of robberies has led to the creation of four types of basic robbery methods, based on:
- level of violence and
- on the interaction with the individual victim.
The ability to use certain methods of attack in particular contexts could also influence a person’s decision to commit a street robbery.
Street robbers use four main methods of attack: clashes, counters, blitzes and thefts.
Offenders use some tactics more frequently.
For example, clashes were more common in a UK study where Confrontation (used in 37% of robberies), followed by blitzes (25%), versus (22%) and thefts with snatching (14%).
These methods are not mutually exclusive and may change in the course of the robbery.
Each attack method is described below:
Confrontation . The offender requests property or property at the time of contact with the victim. The offender usually uses verbal commands to gain condescension (for example, “Give me your money”). Violence could follow if the victim does not obey.
Blitz (the lightning robbery). The offender first uses violence to gain control over the victim (i.e., establish “who is responsible”). The actual robbery occurs after the offender immobilizes the victim.
With (Cons) The offender uses a distraction to catch the victim off guard. For example, an offender might ask someone for the time or directions before attacking. The use of a legitimate distraction allows the robber to get in touch with the victim without being alarmed.
Snatch (theft with snatch). This tactic occurs very quickly. No verbal communication takes place between the offender and the victim before the robbery. The offender typically grabs visible property (e.g., bags and cell phones), then flees. Theft of snatches in some states (e.g. the United States) are often combined with pickpocketing in official statistics, making it difficult to determine their true prevalence and incidence. In fact, a theft with snatch can be officially counted only if the victim is injured, even if the robber uses force without causing injury. This issue has important implications for the analysis of the problem because the crimes identified as “street theft” are actually street robberies.
These types of robberies with the exception of blitz tend to use little violence, unless the victim person tries to react.
The planning of the robbery
Street robberies look tactically simple and quickly completed, but they are rarely completely unexpected.
Thieves learn which tactics work in which situations based on previous experience.
So what might appear as an impulsive act could be based on a plan developed from previous experience (Planning).
Immediate circumstances could also affect planning.
For example, a street robber might plan target selection based on the availability of weapons and accomplices.
The idea is that offenders use basic planning to overcome some of the situational challenges of street robbery.
Therefore, the police could prevent street robbery by addressing certain situational factors.
This is why it is important to implement and learn some strategies for reducing opportunities.
Robberies tend to involve long periods of surveillance and synchronization of movements, where the offender observed and follows those they targeted, waiting for an opportunity to “steal” any valuable object that was visible, for example smartphone (if in use at that time they would have been unlocked), bags, handbags etc.
There is also a type of robbery that is done under the influence of drugs to eliminate fear or in abstinence from drugs.
The use of drugs in the conduct of crimes is something known and in some cases can also lead to a disproportionate use of violence as well as the rush to procure it.
In any form of dialogue the offender simply begins to physically attack those he has targeted even if he is doing what he says and this has been found that 50% of the people involved in this type of assault were either drugged at the time of the robbery or looking for money to buy drugs.
It is still worth mentioning that in most robberies there are two or more aggressors, so most reaction cases will involve multiple aggressors.
High violence and high interaction, robberies used physical intimidation as a means to force those who were targeted to consent, these were the interactions in which a weapon could be used, although it is still worth remembering that about 40% of robberies are conducted without, for example, being classified as armed robberies.
If you consider that most street robberies involve two or more individuals, a show of force without the need for a weapon is usually sufficient.
The scam approach represented the smallest percentage of street robberies, because it is an approach that needs more involvement and takes longer to plan.
Robbers look for a quick and easy crime.
In 2022 it is important to understand that street robberies are expressions rather than simple instrumental/transactional crimes to obtain goods that has a deeper level of emotional content in robberies than one might think, that is, it is a type of crime that those who carry it out go beyond the acquisition of goods but are representative of control and demonstration of their social group to which they belong.
When you begin to consider it a crime that is largely committed by two or more people, it is crucial to put in your training more aggressors and see how the possible solutions now look, for example, disarming a weapon while being attacked by a second aggressor etc. , you already understand how much reality is not the fiction of cinema.
Each training session must always be focused and contextualized (this also applies to combat sport) to make sure that the training is relevant and contextual, never generalist because it is necessary considering the various scenarios as well as building the correct answers and avoiding panic and that fear takes over making the aggressor nervous who can have violent reactions more than necessary.
How to react in case of robbery
The practical behavior to have during a robbery as already seen above must be processed before the event because this helps to contain the damage.
If you do not train this type of behavioral response it means that at that moment you will improvise and this is not always the best choice because the purpose of training in self-defense is to respond adequately in the most effective and correct way possible and there is unfortunately not only one way to respond because the variables are many.
- The place (open, closed)?
- Your clothing?
- Are you alone?
- Are there other people around?
- Are you armed?
- Is the aggressor alone or with friends?
- Is the attacker armed and with what kind of weapons, firearms or cutting such as knives or cutter?
- Characteristics of the aggressor/aggressors
Below will be given some indications on how to behave during the robbery to avoid unnecessary accidents and also in order to correctly collect information for the identification and punishment of offenders.
Knowing how to manage the event of a robbery helps to:
- Having an effective response to contain the damage (does not mean reacting)
- Prepare the basis of the author’s sanction and reparation of the damage
- Effectively activate the police forces both on the specific case and on the prevention of a possible recurrence
- To make people or colleagues aware of the presence of crimes in the neighborhood / city and make it more difficult for the offender to act
- Trigger a virtuous interaction to expel danger from the fabric of the neighborhood.
Type of robbery
It is possible to distinguish two types of robbery:
- “robbery in the proper sense“
- or “improper robbery“.
The norm, therefore, reveals two different forms of robbery:the so-called own in which the violence or threat precedes the seizure and the so-called improper in which the violence or threat is subsequent to the seizure and are aimed at achieving impunity.
In the first case, the delinquent decided on the robbery before going into action (robbery in the proper sense).
The robber follows his own plan, observes the habitual and routine behaviors to predict the circumstance most favorable to him: the most suitable days and times.
After obtaining the essential information, the robbery is consumed on a goal that is still chosen intuitively, imagining that at a given time or part of the day there is a substantial amount of values or money.
In the second case (improper robbery) the offender decided to carry out a theft but after the victim’s reaction, he switched to the use of physical threat or violence.
Typical is the case in which the offended party catches the thief while he is carrying out the theft or is undergoing a theft with tearing (snatching) and reacts, hindering the conclusion of the crime: it may then happen that the delinquent resorts to threat, serious intimidation or violence
Some tips on how to behave during the robbery
During the course of a robbery it is good to know that its outcome is influenced by how you handle the situation.
I advise you to:
- Do not react,but slow down the action of the offender as much as possible, showing that he accepts his conditions
- Strive not to appear afraid or afraid and still try to communicate with him or one of the robbers if there are more than one.
- Look as little as possible at the face of the robber and try instead to memorize carefully:
- the way of behaving (if characteristic traits emerge)
- the height
- the speech, the accent
- accurately observes the direction of escape
- if you use or use any means if you can model, color and if you can the license plate number
How to avoid the danger of violence to the person
Precisely because the reaction of the victim can determine the conduct of the robbery, it is good to know that during the event, despite the threat of violence, it is possible to “negotiate”, that is, to influence the dynamics of the aggression and establish in part how the event should end.
Below you will find two opposite behaviors of the victim with their consequences:
- The reactionof panic such as moving in an agitated manner, shouting, not listening to the request of the robber, etc. this alarms the aggressor and stimulates him to hasty and unnecessarily violent reactions.
- Communication,on the other hand, lowers the aggressor’s defenses, inducing him to a rational calculation of his behavior and therefore to contain violence. If the injured party explicitly declares that not wanting the robber to run the risk to be involved in the intervention of the police forces and invites him to prudence and that he does not want problems by giving him the required good, this attitude causes a lowering of the aggressor’s defenses, causing him to a rational calculation, to slow down the sequence and not to carry out violence.
Attention!! In most cases the delivery of the requested object allows to remove the danger but not all situations are the same for example:
- when the robber has the conviction that you have much more to give him and maybe you don’t have it, in that case you are really in danger.
- or when the robber approaches he hits the victim cold for no apparent reason and steals what he thinks the victim possesses
In these cases there can not be much to negotiate because if you know that you have given everything you own or you are hit immediately to be able to then take the goods you own without implementing the threat of exchange, here in this case the violence is extreme and can have very serious consequences.
To negotiate and to contain the danger of violence to the person, it is necessary to take into account the following factors:
- the delinquent being that he initiates the action has the advantage of those who try to anticipate the events and consequences of his act. In his mind he has already gone through the events of how it is possible that the robbery takes place and perhaps it is not the first robbery he does, this going through the events mentally gives him the useful information to reduce the possibility that the action does not reach the desired end or the risk that unfavorable situations difficult to control arise, from which derive the behaviors that he must have to achieve the purpose, actions that can also be disproportionate to the economic advantage that the robbery can give.
- who suffers the crime can condition the author when, as a victim, he executes the requests of the robber who in the form of a threat blackmails the victim “money or life” and therefore the replacement of “life” with the good object of the robbery eliminates the opposition of the purposes, since both are more important not to risk life.
- every time the victim communicates information to the robber to reassure him produces as an immediate effect the relaxation of the risk that the robber loses control and carries out uncontrolled conduct such as acts of violence
- the robber, paradoxically, can unconsciously feel safe from the attitudes of the victim. If this happens, the robber, always unconsciously, may believe that the level of threat put in place is functionally adequate to achieve the end, and therefore does not require further thrusts (therefore loosens the tension) and this is even in the sad positive situation for the safety of the victim
What to do after the robbery
- Stay on site and wait for law enforcement (unless the place is dangerous due to the presence of other subjects with unclear intentions)
- If there are witnesses ask to stay until the police arrive.
- Do not touch anything and avoid stepping on, review in the parts marked by the robber
- If available ask to view the recording devices and ask to make the backup in case the place where you are had surveillance systems.
Robberies can take place to private subjects but also to structures open to the public such as banks, post offices, supermarkets, tobacconists, pharmacies, etc.
As for the categories, it is necessary to inform the reference trade association and involve it to let it know that robberies have occurred or are taking place in certain categories.
This is very important to raise awareness among other colleagues or people working in the neighborhood about the prevention of similar events and increase the level of prevention and attention.
Providing guidance and information on how to prevent or deter robbers from a certain goal.
This external communication initiative is important to help individual citizens or categories to pay more attention because specific crimes are occurring that affect certain categories or types of people.
The robbery is an event of danger and with great stress, a traumatic experience that often if you read the news has dramatic epilogues especially when there is the reaction of the victim who when armed has in some cases even the best but that still brings the dynamic in a high risk of life and subsequently also important judicial calvaries even if this depends on the legislatures of each state.
In most cases the delivery of the requested object allows you to remove the danger but not all situations are the same especially when the robber has the conviction that you have much more to give him and you may not have it, in that case you are really in danger.
Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport