Motivations for Street Robbery Offences


‘Street robbery’ is defined ‘as the use or threat of force to steal property from a person in public space. Street robbery is also known as mugging, which usually encompasses the crime of snatch theft as well. Snatch theft differs from street robbery in that it is the taking of property from a victim without the use or threat or intimidation’ (Tompson, 2012). Recent years have witnessed a rise in the number of recorded incidents of ‘street robbery’ in Northampton.

This project with Northamptonshire Police explores which factors influence the choices and behaviours of offenders in committing street robbery offences, and what the police can do to effectively reduce these offences and detect those that occur. It considers the issues of victims, offenders and locations and the intersection of these in allowing for street robbery to take place.


Research aims

  • To explore the decision-making processes of those committing street robberies;
  • To explore the offenders’ thoughts and actions before, during and after committing a street robbery;
  • To explore the rationale for their selection of victim;
  • To explore the rationale for the location and timing of offences.
  • To provide recommendations to prevent street robbery, deter offenders, and improve police responses.



  • Semi-structured interviews with offenders;
  • Thematic analysis of data.




Proposed timeline of activity


Project plan summary Proposed timeframe
Meetings with police to initially plan project and data collectionMay – June 16
Follow-up meetingsNov-Dec 16
Data collection tool developmentDec 16 – Jan 17
Interviews with offenders (x20)Feb – March 17
Analysis of interview dataApril 17
Write up findings and final reportMay – June 17
Present findings at the British Society of Criminology Annual ConferenceJuly 17



Tompson, L. (2012) Street Robbery. UCL Jill Dando Institute. Available at: (accessed 25 April 2016).