Robbery is defined as theft of property from an individual or business. It typically means by force or threat of force or violence (such as a mugging, bag snatching, or hold up). According to Canada Robbery Statistics, rates of robbery have been trending downward over the last two decades. They dropped significantly (55.66%) from 106.36 cases per 100,000 people in 2006 (the highest since the year 2000) to 50.7 cases per 100,000 in 2020 (the most current year available). That’s the lowest rate in 20 years!
While criminals who commit burglaries tend to seek empty houses and avoid confrontations with residents, robberies tend to involve an intention of violence while dwellings are occupied. In other words, burglaries tend to be crimes against property while robberies are crimes against people. Fortunately, home invasions or robberies are much less likely (with 1 in 562 households across Canada) than burglaries (with 1 in 28 households across Canada). And like many other crimes, robbery tends to be much higher in the U.S. than in Canada (42.2% higher).
Can You Prevent Robbery?
According to the Ottawa Police, there are steps we can take to prevent crimes from occurring. To help prevent you or your business from becoming one of the Canada Robbery Statistics, for example:
- Make sure your property (home or business) is well lit.
- Avoid keeping valuables where they’re easily seen, and lock them up safely when not in use. In other words, don’t make it obvious to criminals that you have cash, jewelry, weapons, drugs, or other forms of wealth—enjoy a lower profile.
- Remember to keep doors closed and locked, including side and back doors.
- Ensure you have proper alarms installed, in good working order, and on. Regularly clean and inspect any cameras or other security systems to ensure they’re working properly.
- Avoid routine procedures, which can be observed by would-be robbers (such as taking your paycheck to the bank at the same time every couple of weeks or getting cash from the same bank or store on the same day).
- Have a safe room in your home where you can go in case of a home invasion or robbery or the threat of a severe weather event (e.g., a tornado).
To help prevent personal robbery, such as a mugging, the University of Calgary provides these tips:
- Know where you’re going and your route to get there.
- Remain aware of your surroundings.
- Get to know your neighbors, retail vendors, and people in your community.
- Get the attention of others (if possible) if someone suspiciously approaches you or your vehicle.
- Lock your car doors and roll up your windows.
- Keep any valuables (such as money, your purse, and your phone) out of sight.
- Check your surroundings before leaving a building or vehicle.
What to Do If a Robbery Happens
While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, unfortunately, robberies can still take place. If this happens, again, to prevent yourself from becoming one of the Canada Robbery Statistics, the Ottawa police recommend:
- If possible, don’t engage, escape. Don’t try to be a hero.
- Remain calm—many robbers may be nervous or excited, under the influence of drugs, or angry. Thus, they can be easily provoked. Take deep breaths to help you remain calm as robberies can quickly escalate until they become tragedies.
- Obey the robber’s instructions.
- Don’t fight, argue, or take actions that could antagonize the robber and put your safety, or the safety of others around you, in jeopardy.
- Take a good look at the robber. Do your best to notice their:
- Age range
- Height (using a door frame, wall picture, or something in the area as a reference)
- Type of build or estimated weight
- Any unusual characteristics, such as scars, tattoos, accents, or unique speech traits
- Type and colour of clothing, including hats or shoes
- Which direction the suspect left, and how they left—by foot, type of vehicle, etc. If you can, notice and then write down the license number
- If they were carrying any weapons and what they looked like (e.g., the size, type, and colour of any gun or knives)
Once they leave, immediately write down any details that could help the police. In other words, avoid trying to trust your memory, especially when in such a highly stressful situation.
- Save (but don’t touch if at all possible) any evidence from the scene, such as a holdup note or anything they have dropped or left behind.
- Call law enforcement as soon as the robbers have left and provide your name, location, and telephone number.
- Ask any witnesses to stay with you until the police have arrived and interviewed them.
- Provide access to any surveillance or security cameras available to law enforcement, and cooperate with the police during their investigation.
Preventing a robbery from happening in the first place is the best way to keep yourself, your family, and your home or business safe.
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