House robberies refer to crimes where the robbers target a home when the residents/occupants are at home. These type of robberies are becoming more popular as the robbers have access to property which they normally may not have access to such as the car, cash, cell phones, credit cards, bank card and keys to the gun safe jewellery etc.
When planning a house robbery robbers know that the risk of being caught or that there may be resistance is much higher than with a burglary and as a result they do a lot of advance planning to minimize their risk. In many cases the robbers have inside information on what is inside the house. Prof. Rudolph Zinn from the University of South Africa performed a study on house robberies by interviewing convicted house robbers. 77% of the respondents he interviewed said they had received prior information about the target house or its residents. Information was mostly received from domestic workers, gardeners, and previous disgruntled employees. In the majority of cases the informers were people well-known to the victims of the eventual house robbery.
After obtaining information house robbers often perform detailed surveillance on the target houses to establish entry & escape routes, response time of security companies, frequency of police patrols, and type of security devices in place as well as the routine of the occupants. This surveillance may take as long as 2 weeks. Most robbers are not deterred by common security measures such as alarm systems, guard dogs or armed response companies if the perceived value of the assets inside the house is very high. Contrary to popular belief most houses are mostly not marked by placing physical objects in the street. Robbers perform detailed surveillance for weeks and frequently make use of cell phones to take photographs of the houses they plan to target. There is thus no need to mark houses as the robbers are fully familiar with the house.
Robbery teams normally consist of 3-4 team members and each team member is assigned specific tasks. Examples include spotters, detaining team, team that search victims etc. It is common that surveillance is conducted in the immediate vicinity of the house before the actual robbery takes place. The robbery is executed smoothly with each team member knowing exactly what to do. Intimidation and brutal violence forms a key component of these types of robberies. It is common that the robbers brutally attack the male(s) first to neutralize any possible threat from their side and so that the rest of the family goes into immediate submission. In certain cases the female or children are used to force the male into submission but this is seen as the more risky way as the male may get an opportunity to retaliate. In most cases robbers carry fire-arms and are willing to use them when encountering resistance. The fire-arms are mostly stolen fire-arms and in many cases the stolen fire-arms are fire-arms that were rented from persons illegally in possession of such fire-arms.
After the robbery studies have shown that most robbers simply go home or visit friends as they are so confident in their effective planning that they feel the risk of being caught is very low. Cash taken during the robbery is normally shared and other items are often hidden, given away or sold as quickly as possible. An item that was stolen on order is delivered to the buyers. The informants who provided the inside information also share in some of the loot. In many cases parties are held and girls are entertained with expensive gifts bought with the cash from the robbery and in some cases even the jewellery taken during a robbery.