Dutch homes increasingly the target of armed robberies

The number of armed robberies in the Netherlands dropped significantly over the past years, according to a study on the approach to robberies. But the researchers did notice a shift in targets - robbers are increasingly targeting homes instead of stores, NOS reports. 

The study was conducted by former professor of criminology Cyrille Fijnaut and security researcher Ben Rovers.

The researchers partly attribute the shift in robbery targets to heavy investments in robbery prevention by the government and retail industry over the past years. In the early 90's hardly any homes were robbed in the Netherlands. In 2014, the most recent available figures, about 40 percent of robberies happened in homes.

Over the past year robbery investigation was improved and penalties for robbers were increased. Preventative measures such as robbery training for retailers and increased security for businesses were also implemented. The researchers believe that these measures may encourage criminals to try other targets. "You'd have to ask the perpetrators to know for sure, but it is likely that robbers are opting for a house rather than a store because of all the measures."

The researchers are concerned that the threatening negative savings interest rates - which may make more people keep their money at home instead of paying to keep it in a bank - will also result in ore hoe robberies. "That could give the shifts towards robberies on homes an extra push", they write in their report.

Strikingly, the researchers also raise the concern that armed robbers may be recruited by jihadists, because they do not shirk from violence. They've noticed that  large robberies are carried out with military precision. And heavy explosives are sometimes used, especially in ATM bombings. "We must keep in minds that ties may have been made between this type of robbers and jihadists", NOS quotes Fijnaut.