A gunman terrifies a bottle shop worker into handing over the contents of  the til.
A gunman terrifies a bottle shop worker into handing over the contents of the til.

Under the gun: Huge spike in armed robberies

QUEENSLAND has recorded its highest number of armed robberies in more than a decade, as offence rates in some pockets of the state increased by more than 100 per cent in just one year.

New crime data released by the State Government reveals armed robberies are on an upward trend and have peaked at numbers not seen since 2006.

In the 2018 financial year, Queensland recorded 2293 robberies, of which 1179 were considered armed robberies.

The data showed that the increase of armed robberies is up by a concerning 13.7 per cent, compared with the number of unarmed robberies, which increased only slightly by 0.5 per cent from the prior year.

More worrying than the general increase in armed robberies, however, is the drastic spike in figures across localised parts of the state.

Statistics from Toowoomba indicate a 103.3 per cent increase in armed robberies in just one year, while central Queensland reported an 86.1 per cent increase, and the Darling Downs a 50 per cent rise. However, armed robberies in Brisbane's south, east and west, as well as in Logan and Townsville, were down.

According to Bond University criminologist and former police detective Terry Goldsworthy, the significant changes to localised crime is due to environmental and cultural changes specific to each region.

"You can't just apply a broad brush to the state," Dr Goldsworthy said.

"The individual areas will each have idiosyncrasies in regards to what's driving their particular crime problem. 

"For the whole state, however, it's a really substantial increase of nearly 14 per cent.

"What's probably more concerning is usually when you have an increase in robberies, it is the unarmed robberies going up," he said. "But this time, armed robberies went up by about an extra 150 in one year."

According to crime data, over the last nine years, armed robberies have risen by nearly 29 per cent, while unarmed robberies have dropped by more than 5 per cent. Queensland police Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming said people's propensity to carry knives was part of the reason the figures varied so significantly. 

"Anecdotally, we see that there is a willingness for some people to carry knives or edge weapons and when they combine that with their motivation to commit robbery offences, the risk of a weapon being used in the robbery obviously increases," he said.

The data revealed that of the state's total number of armed robberies, almost half (1021) were committed by youths aged 10-17 years old.

Originally published as Under the gun: Huge spike in armed robberies


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