Cash in Transit Armed Robbery in Australia

By Smith, Lance; Louis, Erin | Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, July 2010 | Go to article overview
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Cash in Transit Armed Robbery in Australia

Smith, Lance, Louis, Erin, Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Foreword |

Cash in transit (CIT) armed robbery is an offence that can cause serious stress and danger to individuals who become victims while doing their job. To compound the emotional, psychological and physical damage CIT armed robbery can cause victims, it often causes considerable financial loss to the companies targeted. CIT armed robberies have been increasing in recent years and the AICs National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program, along with some of Australia's leading CIT companies, determined that the dynamics of this type of robbery needed to be more closely examined. Understanding the type of offender who commits CIT armed robbery will help with the development of crime prevention strategies for the CIT industry. The types of offenders who typically commit CIT armed robbery are professional offenders who have a tendency to plan the offence, study their target and carry high-powered weaponry. Considering CIT armed robbery and related crime prevention strategies from overseas is also recommended, as countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom have had more experience in preventing this type of crime.

Adam Tomison


Cash in transit (CIT) can best be described as the transport, delivery and receipt of valuables such as cash, securities, jewels, bullion and other financial instruments using escort services in armoured or 'soft skin' (non-armoured) vehicles (Comeare 2009). CIT-type armed robberies are generally considered to be the work of professional armed robbers (Gill 2000) and there is anecdotal evidence of a recent rise in these types of incidents. Researchers have long recognised that successful armed robbers are those who take risks, however, there is little research into how those risks are managed (Gill 2000). This paper, employing research from the Australian Institute of Criminology's (AIC) National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program (NARMP), examines CIT armed robberies, the offenders who commit them and their perceived level of professionalism. Consideration is also given to the nature of CIT attacks overseas and the types of crime prevention strategies used in those countries.

There are currently three main typologies of armed robbery offenders. These are amateurs, intermediates and professional offenders. The categories are determined by the risk-to-yield ratio of the armed robbery, the criminal history of the offender and the amount of planning that has gone into the robbery. Amateurs tend to be opportunistic offenders, with shortsighted intentions and little understanding of what to expect from the robbery experience or the amount of money they are likely to receive (Mathews 2002; Smith & Louis 2009). Intermediate armed robbers are generally more organised and experienced than amateurs but not as dedicated to armed robbery as professionals (Matthews 2002; Smith & Louis 2009). These offenders are likely to engage in a reasonable amount of planning and are prepared to use weapons if necessary. Professional armed robbers have a higher level of motivation, are involved in rigorously planning robberies, are more likely to use firearms as their weapon of choice, are more willing to engage in violence and are more likely to persistently commit armed robberies as a means of making a living (Gill 2001 ; Katz 1988).

Professional offenders are considered high-risk, violent offenders; while they make up only a small percentage of the offending population, they cause the greatest concern to the community (Farrington 1997).

Cash in transit armed robbers

ClT armed robberies generally involve planning by multiple offenders, armed with firearms, who are seeking substantial gains. In line with this profile, it is likely that most CIT offenders will be professional armed robbers. This is supported by Gill (2001) in one of the few studies undertaken in this area. Gill (2001) studied 341 robbers who targeted a variety of locations and noted that a consistent pattern emerged; CIT robbers were the most organised and made the most effort to manage possible risks.

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