Contrasting robbery- and non-robbery-related workplace homicide: North Carolina, 1994-2003

Am J Prev Med. 2009 Jul;37(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.03.013. Epub 2009 May 7.


Background: Most research regarding the perpetration of occupational homicide has focused on robbery-related violence; relatively little is known about the circumstances surrounding non-robbery-related occupational homicides and interventions that may prevent these events. A case series was assembled and utilized to examine occupational homicides that were and were not motivated by robbery to determine if select characteristics of the events differed according to the perpetrator's motivation for the crime and relationship to the workplace.

Methods: Information on occupational homicides that occurred in North Carolina from 1994 to 2003 was abstracted from medical examiners' records and death certificates and was obtained by interviews with law-enforcement officers and from newspaper accounts (data collection occurred in 1996-2001 and 2003-2007). Each homicide was classified by motive and the perpetrator's relationship to the workplace and its employees. Characteristics of robbery-motivated and non-robbery-motivated homicides were compared. Analysis was conducted in 2006 and 2007.

Results: Most occupational homicides occurred during robbery of the workplace (64%). However, 36% of occupational homicides during the study period were not robbery-related. Strangers perpetrated 73% of robbery-related killings but only 11% of non-robbery-related homicides. Homicides unrelated to robbery occurred in several industrial sectors, including retail (28%); service (26%); and manufacturing (22%), whereas robbery-related homicides occurred overwhelmingly in retail (67%). The type of firearm used to perpetrate these killings differed by the perpetrator's relationship to the workplace.

Conclusions: Non-robbery-related homicides constitute a meaningful proportion of occupational homicides, and the characteristics of these cases can differ from those that are robbery-related. The current system by which workplace homicides are classified could be expanded to include robbery motivation. Efforts to examine occupational-homicide-prevention strategies for non-robbery-related homicides are important.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death*
  • Coroners and Medical Examiners
  • Databases, Factual
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Motivation
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupations / classification
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Theft / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data*