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Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit
The Vancouver Police Department's Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit investigates many of the city's most serious crimes. These include all serious assaults and attempted murders, bank and jewellery store robberies, forcible confinements, kidnapping, extortions, and home invasions.
The VPD's Arson investigators are also part of the Unit.
Robbery / Assault / Arson FAQs
Q. What is the definition of a robbery and how is it different from a theft?
A. A robbery occurs when a suspect steals or attempts to steal something from the victim using violence or threats of violence. The violence does not need to be excessive. If a person indicates that he or she is armed, even if this is not true, then they are committing robbery.
Robbery is different from theft or break-and-enter, where the victimized person is not usually present. If a suspect breaks into an empty house to steal items then he is committing a break-and-enter; if the suspect breaks into a house, confronts the occupants, and then steals from them using violence, then he or she is committing a robbery.
Different forms of robberies include:
- commercial robberies, like banks and convenience stores
- home invasions
- purse snatchings
In all cases, the victim of the robbery is the person being robbed; therefore, a bank robbery in which three tellers are robbed is three counts of robbery. Under Section 344 of the Criminal Code, the maximum punishment for robbery is Life. If a firearm or imitation firearm is used in the commission of the robbery, there are minimum sentences applicable.
Q. What types of crimes does the Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit investigate?
A. Despite the fact that we are named the Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit, we do not investigate all robberies. We investigate all robberies to financial institutions, armoured car robberies, robberies with shots fired, home invasions, jewellery store robberies, extortions, and kidnappings.
We do not investigate robberies to businesses like convenience stores, gas stations, and restaurants, or street robberies like purse snatchings and strong-armings. These crimes are either investigated by the General Investigation Unit or by patrol members.
Q. I have just been robbed, what do I do?
A. If you are the victim of a robbery, call 9-1-1 and report the crime as soon as it is safe to do so. A patrol member will be dispatched to take a report. This report will then be forwarded to the appropriate unit where it will be reviewed to determine if a detective will be assigned. You cannot report a crime directly to the Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit.
If the crime you are reporting occurred some time ago (one week ago, one month ago, one year ago), you can report the crime in one of two ways:
- via the VPD's non-emergency report line at (604) 717-3321
- in person at the Public Service Counter of the Vancouver Police Department
Q. I have just seen the person who robbed me, what do I do?
A. If this happens, do not confront the suspect. Immediately call 9-1-1 and let them know that you were the victim of a robbery and that you have seen the suspect. Follow the call-taker's instructions.