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Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit
The Vancouver Police Department's Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit is a part of the Major Crime Section. It consists of two sergeants, 22 investigators, two civilian support members and an analyst.
The investigative responsibilities of the Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit are numerous and varied and include many of the city's most serious crimes. These include all serious assaults (including attempted murders), bank and jewellery store robberies, forcible confinements, kidnapping, extortions, and home invasions.
The VPD's Arson Investigator also forms part of the Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit office.
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 (i.e. bank robberies 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. According to the mandate of the Robbery / Assault / Arson Unit, we are responsible for investigating all robberies to financial institutions (banks, credit unions, trust companies), armoured car robberies, robberies with shots fired, home invasions, jewellery store robberies, extortions, and kidnappings.
We do not investigate robberies to businesses such as convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, or street robberies such as 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 911 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 911 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.