In South Africa, there has been a steady increase in the number of armed robberies within the retail industry which have many negative consequences for the victims, their families, and the community. Materialism and economic advantage are major factors, as these robberies are very lucrative, although socio-economic factors such as unemployment, poverty, and relative deprivation can also contribute to the phenomenon. The climate of violence prevalent in South Africa, the ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system, as well as the availability of illegal firearms also contributes to this climate of lawlessness. The intense fear aroused by these robberies, as well as the extent of this crime necessitates empirical research in this regard. A literature search of South African databases reflects that no specific research regarding retail robberies has been undertaken. In order to fill this void, it was decided to investigate the modus operandi of retail robbers from the victims' perspective, as well as relevant situational factors, victim reactions and the consequences of these robberies. The Model of the victim's experience after a retail robbery (see Figure 2) was formulated to serve as a theoretical framework to give direction to the study and interpret the findings. In order to actualise the set research expectations, various victims of retail robberies within Gauteng were selected to participate in this study. The sample was drawn according to the purposive theoretical and snowball sampling methods. The sample consisted of 20 victims. Individual interviews were conducted with these respondents. Upon analysis and interpretation of the data, it was found that most retail robberies occur in areas with a high crime-rate. The main reason for the selection of a specific target seems to be the obtaining of money. The findings further indicate that retail robberies are committed by groups of offenders who predominantly make use of handguns during these robberies and usually have getaway vehicles waiting outside the stores. It was also apparent in the study that verbal threats and violence are usually employed during retail robberies in order to ensure compliance by the victims and that victims are less likely to resist if the offenders are armed with firearms. Findings indicate that the robbers become more aggressive when resisted and that aggression is influenced by the size of the group. The findings further show that stores with few customers are more likely to become the victims of retail robberies. It was found that security measures such as armed response, alarms and panic buttons do not necessarily deter retail robbers, but most stores improved their security following a robbery. Stores with no surveillance appear to be more vulnerable. Another situational factor pertinent to the study was that most of the stores' interiors were visible to passers-by from the outside. Finally, the impact of retail robberies upon the lives of the victims in terms of financial, physical, emotional and social consequences was also investigated. Based on the findings, recommendations are made with regard to further research. Stemming from this, various suggestions concerning the prevention of retail robberies are also made.
Dissertation (MA (Criminology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.