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Estimating the number of robberies

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) defines robbery as

[t]he unlawful taking of property, with intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, from the immediate possession, control, custody or care of a person, accompanied by the use, and/or threatened use, of immediate force or violence (ABS 2011a: 45).

Figures presented in this chapter include armed, unarmed and attempted robbery.

Recorded crime statistics

According to ABS recorded crime statistics there were 13,617 victims of robbery in Australia in 2011. For the purposes of estimating property losses, it is necessary to know the number of robberies in which an organisation was the victim and the number in which an individual was victimised. Recorded crime statistics show that 11,206 victims of robbery were either male or female (82.3%) while 2,411 were non-individuals (17.7%). It may be assumed that these latter crimes were against organisations (ABS 2012b).

Crime victimisation survey data

In order to capture the number of robberies not recorded by police, data from the ABS’ Crime Victimisation, Australia 2011–12 (ABS 2013a) have been used. However, the ABS CVS records only victimisation experienced by persons aged 15 years and over, unlike recorded crime statistics in which victims of all ages are recorded. In 2011, there were 598 victims of robbery aged under 15 years (5.3%) using the same proportion of recorded crime victims under the age of 15 years.

In 2011–12, the CVS estimated there to be 66,400 victims of robbery aged 15 years or over. Adding 5.3 percent to this for those aged under 15 years, gives an estimated total of 69,872. This represents a multiplier of 6.2 times the number of officially recorded robberies against individuals in 2011.

In the case of robberies against organisations, ABS recorded crime statistics show that there were 2,411 non-individual victims in 2011 (ABS 2012b). Using the same multiplier of 1.2 for organisational robberies that Rollings (2008) used, it may be estimated that there were 2,893 organisational robbery victims in 2011.

In total, there were an estimated 72,765 victims of robbery in 2011—69,872 individuals and 2,893 organisations.

This figure represents a 24 percent decrease from the 99,296 reported by Rollings (2008). However, it should be noted that recorded counts of robbery have decreased by 21 percent since 2005 and thus the current figure reflects the general downward trend in robbery victimisation.

Estimating property loss

As in previous AIC cost of crime reports, the lack of a definitive figure for the average property lost in robberies across Australia makes estimation of the total cost of robbery difficult. Further, many of the sources used by Rollings (2008) were unavailable or have not been updated since 2008. The UK Home Office has, however, recently released the findings from its Commercial Victimisation Survey 2012 (Home Office 2013) that have been used where relevant. Unfortunately, the content of the Commercial Victimisation Survey 2012 has less detail than the previous 2002 survey making some calculations impossible. Accordingly, many of the current estimates were based on costs determined in earlier Home Office reports—The Economic and Social Costs of Crime Against Individuals and Households 2003/04 (Dubourg, Hamed & Thorns 2005) and Crime Against Retail and Manufacturing Premises: Findings from the 2002 Commercial Victimisation Survey (Shury et al. 2005a, 2005b).

It is estimated that robbery cost organisational victims a total of $6.4m in 2011; an average of $2,210 per incident. This total was calculated by averaging the cost to organisations estimated in the UK commercial victimisation survey ($2,212 to retailers and $3,702 to manufacturers), and from NSW police data provided to AIC previously ($718). All costs presented have been inflated to 2011 Australian prices and represent the cost of lost property only, excluding consequential losses.

The cost of robbery to individuals was similarly difficult to quantify and undertaken mainly by inflating previous estimates to the equivalent 2011 values in Australian dollars. It is therefore estimated that robbery cost individuals $377 per incident and a total of $26.3m in 2011.

Combining the costs of organisational and individual robberies, the total estimated property loss cost in 2011 was $32.7m or $449 per victim.

Medical costs

Research indicates that injury as a result of robbery is quite rare (Smith, Dossetor & Borzycki 2011). In 2005, the ABS estimated that 35 percent of victims were injured as a result of robbery. As there has been no research to suggest a change in the nature of robbery in the past six years, this proportion was used to estimate the number of victims who were physically injured in 2011. Specifically, it is estimated that 24,455 individuals were injured as a result of robbery in 2011.

To determine the proportions that required medical attention or hospitalisation, an average of the previous estimates from Mayhew (2003b) and Rollings (2008) was used. It is therefore estimated that 39 percent of victims required medical attention but were not hospitalised, while 10 percent were hospitalised.

The cost per average hospital stay and non-hospital stay presented in the assault section of this report were used to calculate the medical costs of robbery. These were an average of $11,600 per hospitalisation and $690 per incident requiring medical attention but not hospitalisation. In total, the medical costs of robbery were $35m or $2,917 per injured victim, or $480 per any victim of a robbery (see Table 10).

Table 10 Costs of robbery—medical, lost output and intangible losses, 2011
Category Per victim cost ($) Total cost ($m)
Medical Lost output Intangible Medical Lost output Intangible
Hospitalised 11,600 32,300 12,920 28.4 79.0 31.6
Injured, medical treatment 690 2,700 2,835 6.60 25.7 27.0
Total treated 2,917 8,750 35.0 104.9
Injured, no medical treatment - 675 670 - 8.1 8.4
Not injured - 40 400 - 1.8 18.2
Average for all victims 480 1,669 1,229 - - -
Total - - - 35.0 219.5 85.2

Lost output

In the absence of updated data, the MURAC figures used by Mayhew (2003b) were inflated to 2011 prices. The resulting lost output cost of an incident with injury requiring hospital treatment was estimated to be $32,300 and for medical treatment outside hospital about $2,700. This gives an average lost output cost of robberies requiring medical treatment of about $8,750. A quarter of the lost output costs for those treated outside hospital is set for incidents involving injury but no medical treatment, which amounted to $675. A further $40 was allocated for lost output where the victim was not injured. Averaged across all victims, the lost output for robbery was $1,669 per victim.

Applying these unit costs to the number of individual victims, the total estimate for lost output as a result of robbery in 2011 was $219.5m.

Intangible losses

The intangible costs associated with robbery in 2011 were calculated based on the ratios used previously to estimate the intangible losses associated with assault. Although the motivations behind assault and robbery differ and accordingly, the physical harms may be different, in the absence of more precise data it is assumed that intangible losses can be estimated in a similar way for assault and robbery. As explained in the Assault chapter, the ratio for hospitalised injuries was revised to 0.40 as a result of newly released data from the BITRE.

In 2011, the intangible losses associated with robbery totalled $85.2m; equating to approximately $1,229 per robbery victim.

Total costs

The total cost of robbery in Australia for 2011 was $372.4m, of which the largest component was lost output at $219.5m. On average this represents approximately $5,118 per victim (see Table 11).

Table 11 Overall unit and total costs of robbery, 2011
Unit cost per victim ($) Total cost ($m)
Property loss and damage 449 32.7
Medical 480 35.0
Lost output 1,669 219.5
Intangible 1,229 85.2
Total 5,118 372.4