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Effects of Offender Weapon Use and Victim Self-Defense on Robbery Outcomes

NCJ Number
M R Rand
Date Published
23 pages
This report addresses two factors associated with robbery outcomes: offender's weapon use and victims' actions during the robbery.
Robbery is defined as completed or attempted theft directly from a person by force or threat of force and with or without a weapon. For this study, the only type of robbery considered was that committed by a stranger. Data for 1987-92 from the National Crime Victimization Survey were analyzed. Two-thirds of the robberies committed by strangers were completed, i.e., resulted in property loss. In a third of the robberies, the victim was injured. Robberies in which the offender attacked without prior threat (mugging robberies) exhibited many differences from confrontational robberies, which began with the offender threatening the victim. Mugging robberies constituted 36 percent of robberies committed by strangers and accounted for 40 percent of all completed robberies, 67 percent of all injuries, and 66 percent of all serious injuries sustained. Mugging and confrontational robberies committed with handguns and knives had similar rates of completion. Robbers armed with handguns were the most likely in both mugging and confrontational robberies to take property from their victims. In confrontational robberies, victims who defended themselves in some way were less likely to lose property than victims who took no action, regardless of offender weapon, but victims who defended themselves against offenders armed with guns were more likely than those who took no actions to be injured during the crime. Across all weapon types, the most dangerous actions for victims were attacking, threatening, or resisting the offender. 10 tables