Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses to Street Robbery

The table below summarizes the responses to street robbery, the means by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they should work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Improving Opportunities for Secure but Convenient Storage
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
Offender-Oriented Responses
1 Deploying visible foot/vehicle directed patrols It increases robbers' risk of detection and apprehension by strengthening formal surveillance. ...police use it as part of a highly visible, proactive task force. The task force should be part of a larger initiative focusing on other aspects of street crime.
2 Using covert directed patrols It increases robbers' risk of apprehension. ...plainclothes officers target observed known robbery suspects and respond immediately to robberies as they occur. Police should use covert operations in conjunction with overt directed patrols to deter and catch offenders.
3 Using intelligence to target repeat robbers It increases the likelihood of apprehending prolific offenders. ...police enter intelligence information into a central database with different sources, such as probation, parole and arrest records, and any surveillance or other visual data (e.g., photographs and maps). Police may need additional training, or they may need a civilian IT professional to maintain the database. Continually working with other agencies to obtain current information (e.g., weekly or monthly updates) may be difficult to coordinate.
4 Disrupting stolen goods markets It reduces the rewards for offenders by disrupting the networks they use to fence noncash items. ...your agency works with local business owners, neighborhood groups, residents, or informants familiar with the community who can identify potential networks/groups related to these transactions. Depending on the offenders' level of sophistication, your agency may need to consider Internet sites (e.g., eBay and Craigslist) as another type of network to track stolen goods.
5 Publishing photos of known robbers It increases the risk to offenders by reducing their anonymity. ...police post photos on robbery-specific "WANTED" posters, rather than on posters including various crime types. You should get legal advice before publishing offender photos.
6 Improving robber identification methods It increases the risk of identification through formal surveillance and technological improvements. ...police use it with additional intelligence-gathering databases and informants. Newer robbery identification methods may be costly for an agency. It may be better to work with other city agencies that have technical expertise.
7 Diverting potential offenders to legitimate activities It removes excuses for offending (e.g., a need for cash, drug and/or alcohol addiction, lack of education, and boredom) by connecting offenders to various social services. ...your agency works with social service agencies, schools and park and recreation departments. Once you establish these partnerships, you should sustain them through regular meetings (e.g., monthly or quarterly).
8 Using probation and parole information to target repeat offenders It increases the risk of detection by strengthening formal surveillance. In this case, each agency communicates with one another regarding the release, monitoring or arrest of repeat offenders. ...each agency agrees on a schedule (e.g., daily or weekly) and a method (e.g., email) for sending updated information on repeat offenders. Each agency then alerts the others regarding their next steps. This strategy requires that agencies share sensitive information on offenders. Therefore, the agencies should agree ahead of time on what specific information they need to transmit so they can track repeat offenders in the system.
9 Removing robbery "tools" It increases the effort for offenders by restricting access to alternative weapons. ...local retailers agree to regulate the sale of authentic-looking guns. Some retailers may resist regulating these sales to avoid losing profits.
Victim-Oriented Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
10 Launching a robbery awareness campaign It uses various media outlets to disseminate a prevention message. ...awareness campaigns target the people most at risk for robbery. Your agency may want to work with a local PR firm or university to help create a prevention campaign.
11 Providing safe transportation It reduces the number of potential targets on the street. ...accessible transportation is provided at reduced prices or for free at peak robbery times and places. Your agency may want to work with your local transportation agency, taxi services and universities to coordinate transportation needs.
12 Improving how victims report robberies It improves intelligence, which increases the likelihood of preventing and detecting offenders. ... the reporting of robberies is fast and easy for the victim, and the victim is provided with support. Make sure street robberies reported to local stations are immediately relayed to patrolling officers.
13 Reducing target attractiveness It educates potential targets  about the value of concealing CRAVED items when in public, which makes targets less attractive to offenders. ...campaigns are aimed at high-risk targets most likely to carry CRAVED items in public (e.g., young adults, students and tourists). You should be sensitive when placing safety education materials in robbery hot spots. For example, entertainment venues do not want visitors to think the area is unsafe.  
14 Reducing intoxication in high-risk areas It reduces the chances of a drunken person's becoming a  street robbery target. ...police work with entertainment venues and bars to better monitor serving practices. Entertainment venues, bars and tourist areas may be more willing to participate or train bar staff if incentives are involved (e.g., recognition in a travel brochure).
15 Rewarding awareness and safety It makes receiving safety information attractive to potential targets. ...police provide coupons or discounts to people who attend a safety education program. Your agency should contact those merchants who have high-risk targets as customers and are most likely to work out a coupon or discount program.
16 Redesigning certain CRAVED items It reduces the functionality of highly desired products after a robbery. ...it is well known that certain products contain security enhancements. Redesigning products may be costly for manufacturers. Also, consumers might avoid buying products perceived as risky to own
17 Making senior citizens less vulnerable It reduces their risk of victimization. ...special circumstances put senior citizens at particular risk. You need to examine carefully senior citizens' particular needs, which might be difficult for your agency if there are no community senior citizen groups (e.g., TRIAD) with which to work.
18 Making immigrants less vulnerable It reduces their risk of victimization. ... there are native- language speakers available to communicate with immigrants. Your community may not have cultural or social services that specifically address immigrants' needs.
Location-Oriented Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
19 Removing hiding spots It increases the risk of detection by removing robbers' cover before and after an attack. ...your agency works with building inspectors, park districts and other agencies with the authority to make changes to public landscape. Also, it works best against snatch robbers needing cover for surprise attacks. Business districts, park districts and local residents might resist the removal of attractive trees and shrubbery. Also, demolishing abandoned buildings is costly.
20 Increasing lighting at high-risk sites It increases  offenders' risk of detection. ...workers install lighting in or near areas especially risky at night. Installing and maintaining lights could be costly. Also, lights could help robbers spot items to snatch from a victim.
21 Installing CCTV It increases offenders' risk of detection through continuous guardianship. ...police can identify reliable hot spots. Stationary CCTV systems might be ineffective if robbery displaces to nearby areas.
22 Increasing pedestrian density near risky places It increases the offenders' risk of detection and better protects potential victims. ...police implement their strategy in critical-intensity robbery zones. Rerouting pedestrian traffic could result in pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
23 Removing escape routes It increases the effort offenders need to make to escape from certain locations after a robbery. ...robbery hot spots cluster near areas with multiple shortcuts. Robbers might use weapons to immobilize victims, making a quick escape less important.
24 Increasing site-specific robbery awareness It increases the effort robbery entails by raising public awareness. ...police post awareness materials in high-risk areas and gear them toward at-risk groups. Posting robbery materials in business and entertainment districts could increase fear among employees and patrons. This would also be true for places such as high-rise apartments, public housing and public parking garages.
25 Installing emergency call stations It increases the likelihood of quickly apprehending suspects. ...call stations are installed near high-risk areas and directly linked to local police. False alarms could waste police resources. Immobile call stations are ineffective if spatial robbery patterns change.
Routine-Oriented Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
26 Improving special event planning It reduces robbery risks. ...most event-goers are from out of town and unfamiliar with the local area, or are drinking alcohol and less alert to their immediate surroundings. Emphasizing crime and safety at special events could dissuade would-be event goers, so it is important to publicize safety tips rather than dire warnings.
27 Planning for holiday shopping It reduces the attractiveness of clusters of potential targets confined to a very specific area. ...robberies occur at shopping centers or in their parking areas. This strategy does not protect shoppers as they take gifts from their cars to their homes.
28 Notifying parents just before the school year starts It reduces the attractiveness of a specific group of targets at a specific time. ...parents are willing to relay safety information to children and work with them to increase their personal safety. Schools might be hesitant to call too much attention to robbery risks on or near school grounds.
29 Providing safe routes during construction It ensures that pedestrians are not rerouted to isolated areas with escape routes for robbers. ...your agency works with building companies to monitor routes as work sites change. Construction sites are temporary and frequently change; changing conditions could make monitoring difficult.
30 Encouraging businesses to use alternative pay methods It reduces the rewards of robbery by eliminating cash payments to employees. ...your community's robbery problem involves workers traditionally paid in cash (e.g., waitstaff and day laborers). Electronic deposits or mailed checks could upset employees used to receiving cash payments.
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
31 Using police decoys It increases offenders' risk of apprehension. ...the goal is to increase short-term arrests of street robbers. There is little evidence that using decoys has lasting effects.
32 Arming potential victims It deters offenders. ...offenders perceive an increased risk and they can't escalate violence. Its effectiveness is unknown and controversial. There is the potential of greater harm through escalation.