[Press & Publications] 'Robbers Get Ideas From Television' - New Study [Crime]

June 2000

No 131


A new book, Commercial Robbery, released today (July 4) by Dr Martin Gill, Director of the internationally-renowned Scarman Centre at the University of Leicester, offers new insights into the mind of the armed robber.

Contrary to popular belief, most robberies do not involve a lot of planning - they are carried out because, as one robber noted, 'all you have to do is walk up to a counter and ask money from those who have been told to give it to you'.

And some robbers felt they had done their victims a favour by giving them something to talk about! The Leicester research also found some armed robbers regarded police and 'have-a-go-heroes' as 'fair game'.

The book reveals:

  • Television shows how easy it is to carry out a robbery; some robbers were encouraged to start robbing after they saw how easy it looked on television.
  • The more professional robbers get a 'buzz' out of robbery and find it exciting.
  • In choosing their targets robbers are looking for something that is 'easy' and were particularly concerned that there was a good escape route.
  • A fifth admitted having robbed the same place twice principally because it is easy the first time.
  • Very little planning is required, robbers ask for money and staff give it, robbers do not feel they are likely to get caught, in fact most said the chances were 'very low'.
  • Some robbers would commit robberies for very small sums, because they needed money and it was easy.
  • Only 46% of the bank robbers carried a gun that was capable of firing a lethal shot (they used imitation guns, some were real but unloaded or loaded but not with live ammunition). 35.8% building society robbers carried a gun that could kill, 42% of post office robbers, but 75% of those who robbed cash-in-transit vans did so.
  • Guns are easy to obtain, there is a plentiful supply on the black market. Robbers take guns to reduce the chances of injury, witnesses are less likely to argue with a gun.
  • Some robbers felt that they had done victims a favour, by providing them with an event and something to talk about in an otherwise dull life. It was claimed some victims exaggerated losses or injuries to get robbers longer sentences.
  • Some felt that those working with money should expect be robbed, that it is one of life's hazards.
  • Avoiding capture is a priority and some made it clear that they would use their gun and shoot their way out.
  • When robbers received a harsher sentence than expected that felt it was due to judges being 'mean bastards' 'raving lunatics', or due to racial prejudice, poor legal representation or a corrupt legal system.
  • Prisons is no real deterrent because they do not expect to get caught.
  • 11.7% thought they would rob again. While 46.6% said they would not commit another offence. Of those committed to crime many reflected on the lessons that they had learned in prison.

    NOTE TO NEWSDESK: Dr Martin Gill can be contacted at work 0116 252 5709, at home 0116 270 7742, or on his mobile 07939 225 187. The publishers (Blackstone Press) can be contacted on 020 8740 2277. The University of Leicester Press Office can be contacted on 0116 252 2415/252 2440.


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    Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
    Last updated: 03 July 2000 11:27
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