Robbery Content Updated 02/17/06


The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines robbery as the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.


Year Number of offenses Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
2003 414,235 142.5
2004 401,326 136.7
Percent change -3.1 -4.1

National Volume, Trends, and Rates

Marking the third straight year of a decline in the number of robberies nationwide, the 2004 estimate of 401,326 offenses reflected a 3.1-percent decline from the 2003 estimate. The number of robberies also declined in the 5- and 10-year trends, though the number of robberies in 2004 showed a lesser decrease (1.6 percent) from the 2000 estimate, the drop was greater (30.9 percent) compared with the 1995 data.

A decline was also evident in the Nation’s robbery rate in the same target years. The rate of robbery in the Nation in 2004 was 136.7 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants, a decrease of 4.1 percent compared with the 2003 rate. The 5-year trend showed a decline of 5.7 percent from the 2000 rate, and, as with the trend for the volume of robberies, the 10-year trend for the robbery rate revealed a larger drop (38.1 percent) compared with the 1995 rate. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)

Figure 2.6
Percent Change from 2000
Figure 2.6: Robbery Percent Change from 2000

Regional Offense Trends and Rates

The UCR Program divides the United States into four regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West. (Appendix III provides a map delineating the regions.) The following paragraphs furnish a regional overview of robbery.

The Northeast

The Northeast, with an estimated 18.6 percent of the country’s population in 2004, accounted for 19.5 percent of the Nation’s robberies. (See Table 3.) The estimated number of robberies in the region was a 3.3-percent decline from the 2003 level. The rate in the Northeast was measured at 143.6 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants, a 3.5-percent drop from the 2003 rate. (See Table 4.)

The Midwest

In 2004, an estimated 22.4 percent of the Nation’s population resided in the Midwest, and 19.1 percent of all robberies took place there. (See Table 3.) Compared with the 2003 total, the number of robberies in the Midwest decreased 1.6 percent. The robbery rate (116.8 offenses per 100,000 persons) was the lowest among the four regions and declined 2.1 percent compared with the previous year’s rate. (See Table 4.)

The South

The most populous region, the South, accounted for an estimated 36.1 percent of the country’s population and an estimated 38.4 percent of the Nation’s robberies. (See Table 3.) The number of estimated robberies showed a 4.1-percent drop from the 2003 level. The region experienced the highest rate (145.6 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants) among the regions but, conversely, saw the greatest decline (5.4 percent) in the rate from the previous year. (See Table 4.)

Table 2.18

Robbery by Month
Percent Distribution, 2000-2004

Month 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
January 8.6 8.3 8.8 8.5 8.6
February 7.1 6.5 6.7 6.5 6.9
March 7.7 7.6 7.6 8.0 7.8
April 7.5 7.4 7.4 7.9 7.7
May 8.1 8.1 8.0 8.4 8.2
June 7.9 8.0 7.9 8.2 8.2
July 8.7 8.7 8.8 8.8 8.9
August 9.0 8.7 8.9 8.7 8.8
September 8.5 8.5 8.8 8.4 8.4
October 9.1 9.7 9.1 9.0 9.0
November 8.7 9.2 8.6 8.4 8.6
December 9.0 9.4 9.2 9.1 8.9

The West

The West was home to an estimated 23.0 percent of the Nation’s population in 2004 and accounted for 22.9 percent of the robbery total. (See Table 3.) The estimated number of robberies for the region was down 2.5 percent from the 2003 estimate. The rate in Western states (136.5 robberies per 100,000 persons) was down 3.9 percent from the 2003 rate. (See Table 4.)

Community Types

The UCR Program aggregates data by three community types: Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), cities outside metropolitan areas, and nonmetropolitan counties. MSAs include a central city or urbanized area with at least 50,000 inhabitants and the county that contains the principal city and other adjacent counties that have, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget, a high degree of economic and social integration with the principal city and county as measured through commuting. Cities outside MSAs are mostly incorporated areas and nonmetropolitan counties are made up of mostly unincorporated areas served by noncity law enforcement agencies.

Table 2.19

Percent Distribution by Region, 2004

Type United States total Northeast Midwest South West
Total 1 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Street/highway 42.8 53.2 45.2 36.3 43.4
Commercial house 14.7 10.7 12.6 14.9 17.9
Gas or service station 2.7 3.2 3.4 2.4 2.4
Convenience store 6.1 6.7 4.8 7.3 5.3
Residence 13.8 10.1 12.5 19.0 9.5
Bank 2.4 3.6 2.8 2.0 2.6
Miscellaneous 17.4 12.5 18.7 18.1 18.9
1 Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0

Nearly 83 percent (82.9) of the Nation’s residents lived in MSAs in 2004, and 96 percent of the Nation’s robberies occurred within these metropolitan areas. Robberies occurred in MSAs at a rate of 158.3 offenses per 100,000 persons. Nonmetropolitan counties comprised 10.4 percent of the Nation’s total population and accounted for 1.2 percent of the robberies committed in the United States. The rate was 15.5 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants in this type of community. Cities outside metropolitan areas made up 6.8 percent of the U.S. population and had 2.9 percent of the total robberies. The rate in these areas was 57.7 robberies per 100,000 in population. (See Table 2.)

Population Groups: Trends and Rates

The national UCR Program aggregates data by various population groups, which include cities,


metropolitan counties, and nonmetropolitan counties. A definition of these groups can be found in Appendix III. Most of the population groups experienced declines in the number of robberies in 2004 compared with the previous year’s data. Robberies in cities as a whole decreased 3.7 percent. Among the population groups labeled city, the Nation’s largest cities, those with 250,000 and over in population, had the greatest decrease (5.5 percent) in the number of robberies. Nonmetropolitan counties had the largest decline (7.1 percent) among all population groups compared with the prior year’s data. Metropolitan counties showed a 2.3-percent decline in the robbery volume. (See Table 12.)

Among the population groups, the Nation’s cities, collectively, had a rate of 190.2 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants. Of the population groups designated city, those with 250,000 and over in population had the highest rate (358.1 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants), and the Nation’s smallest cities, those with under 10,000 persons, experienced the lowest rate (52.1 robberies per 100,000 in population). Of the two county groups, the Nation’s metropolitan counties had a rate of 66.3 robberies per 100,000 residents, and nonmetropolitan counties, a rate of 15.7. (See Table 16.)

Figure 2.7
Robbery Categories
Percent Change from 2000
Figure 2.7: Robbery Categories Percent Change from 2000

Offense Analysis

The UCR Program collects supplemental data about robberies to document the use of weapons, the dollar loss associated with the offense, and the location types.

Robbery by Weapon

An examination of the 2004 supplemental data regarding the type of weapons offenders used in the commission of the robbery revealed that assailants relied on strong-arm tactics in 41.1 percent of robberies during 2004; they employed firearms in 40.6 percent of robberies. Offenders used knives or other cutting instruments in 8.9 percent of these crimes. In the remaining 9.4 percent of robberies, the offenders used other types of weapons. (See Table 19.)

Loss by Dollar Value

Based on law enforcement agencies’ supplemental reports, robberies cost victims, collectively, an estimated $525 million dollars. (Based on Tables 1 and 23.) The average loss per robbery was $1,308. Average dollar losses were highest for banks, which lost $4,221 per offense. Gas and service stations lost an average of $1,749. Commercial houses, which include supermarkets, department stores, and restaurants, had average losses of $1,529. An average of $1,488 was taken from residences; individuals lost an average $923 from robberies on streets and highways. An average of $653 per robbery was taken at convenience stores. An average of $1,682 per robbery was taken in all other types of robberies, cumulatively. (See Table 23.)

Robbery Trends by Location

Among the location types, robberies from bank increased 14.6 percent from 2003 to 2004. Robberies that occurred at residences increased 11.4 percent, and those at commercial houses rose 3.9 percent. However, the greatest decrease (7.4 percent) occurred in robberies of gas or service stations. The number of robberies on streets and highways dropped 5.6 percent, and robberies at convenience stores fell 5.2 percent. The cumulative total of robberies that took place in all other locations increased 5.1 percent in 2004 in relation to the totals from 2003. (See Table 23.)

Percent Distribution

By location type, the greatest proportion of robberies (42.8 percent) in 2004 occurred on streets and highways. Robbers targeted commercial houses in 14.7 percent of the offenses and residences in 13.8 percent. Convenience stores were the site of 6.1 percent of robberies, followed by gas or service stations, 2.7 percent. The smallest percentage of robberies (2.4 percent) occurred at banks. In addition, 17.4 percent of robberies occurred in other types of locations. (See Table 23.)

Table 2.20: Robbery, Location Percent Distribution by Population Group, 2004


In the UCR Program, law enforcement can clear offenses either by arrest or by exceptional means, i.e., when elements beyond the control of law enforcement prevent the placing of formal charges against the offender. (Section III provides more information regarding clearances.) In 2004, law enforcement agencies cleared 26.2 percent of robberies through arrests or exceptional means. Law enforcement in the Nation’s cities, collectively, cleared 25.3 percent of robberies. Within the city population groups, law enforcement in the smallest cities, those with populations under 10,000, cleared the highest percentage of robberies (34.8 percent) that occurred within their jurisdictions. Law enforcement in the largest cities—250,000 and over in population—cleared the smallest proportion of robberies (22.0 percent). For the Nation’s two population groups labeled as county, law enforcement agencies in metropolitan counties cleared 31.7 percent of robberies and those in nonmetropolitan counties cleared 40.6 percent. (See Table 25.)

Among the Nation’s four regions, law enforcement agencies in the Northeast cleared the highest percentage of their robberies (30.1 percent). Agencies in the South cleared 26.3 percent of robberies, followed by the West (26.1 percent) and the Midwest (22.3 percent). (See Table 26.)

Clearances and Juveniles

When a law enforcement agency clears a crime that involved only a juvenile(s), the clearance is not dependent upon an arrest. For instance, when an offender under the age of 18 is cited to appear before juvenile authorities, the UCR Program considers the incident cleared by arrest, even though a physical arrest may not have occurred. However, clearances of crimes that involved both adult and juvenile offenders are reported as a clearance for an offense committed by an adult. For more information on clearances, see Section III, Offenses Cleared.

Nationally, 14.4 percent of the clearances for robbery involved juveniles only. By population group, robbery clearances involving juveniles only accounted for 14.6 percent of the total number of clearances in the Nation’s cities, 13.7 percent in metropolitan counties, and 6.8 percent of robbery clearances in nonmetropolitan counties. (See Table 28.)

Table 2.21: Robbery, Types of Weapons Used Percent Distribution by Region, 2004


Table 2.20

Percent Distribution by Population Group, 2004

Type Group I
(60 cities, 250,000 and over; population 38,770,011)
Group II
(155 cities, 100,000 to 249,999; population 23,517,968)
Group III
(372 cities, 50,000 to 99,999; population 25,679,071)
Group IV
(674 cities, 25,000 to 49,999; population 23,311,930)
Group V (1,482 cities, 10,000 to 24,999; population 23,442,914) Group VI (6,225 cities, under 10,000; population 19,590,461) County agencies (3,670 agencies; population 84,978,944)
Total 1 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Street/highway 52.0 39.3 37.0 31.0 24.9 23.8 31.4
Commercial house 12.4 16.4 17.0 17.7 18.0 15.2 17.1
Gas or service station 1.7 2.7 3.0 3.8 4.3 3.7 3.5
Convenience store 4.4 6.9 6.8 8.1 9.1 10.6 8.0
Residence 12.5 14.5 13.1 13.8 15.6 15.4 20.2
Bank 1.5 2.7 3.4 3.8 4.1 4.0 2.8
Miscellaneous 15.4 17.5 19.7 21.8 24.0 27.3 16.9

1 Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0

Table 2.21

Robbery, Types of Weapons Used
Percent Distribution by Region, 2004

Region Total all
Firearms Knives or
Total 100.0 40.6 8.9 9.4 41.1
Northeast 100.0 34.8 11.1 8.6 45.5
Midwest 100.0 41.8 6.1 10.6 41.5
South 100.0 46.4 8.3 9.4 35.9
West 100.0 34.7 10.1 9.2 46.0
1 Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0