Editor's note: This is the fourth post in a series exploring violent crime in Denver. Click to read our first three reports, "Murder in Denver: Victims, Victimizers, Most Common Locations for Killings," "Sex Crimes in Denver: Fewer Than 50 Percent of Rapes Solved Last Year" and "Aggravated Assault in Denver: Where Most Attacks Happened in 2017."
In Denver during 2017, more than 1,200 robberies were reported, but fewer than 500 have been cleared by law enforcement, leaving victims' odds of seeing justice done at far less than fifty-fifty.
The information comes from Colorado Crime Statistics, an excellent new website recently launched by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The site is very user-friendly, allowing folks to look up a wide range of data for specific time periods and jurisdictions.
We accessed Denver Police Department digits about violent crime, which includes murder, non-consensual sex offenses, aggravated assault and robbery, during 2017, the most recent year for which final stats are available.
Solving cases in these combined categories last year proved to be a significant challenge. Only about 54 percent of the DPD's cases were designated as "cleared," a term CBI communication director Susan Medina defines like so.
"'Cleared,' in most cases, means one or more arrests were made," Medina explains via email. "However, there are exceptions where an incident has reached a conclusion from the law enforcement perspective. An incident is also cleared if the offender is found but not arrested. These are called 'exceptional clearances.' Exceptional clearance occurs when the offender is a juvenile released to the parents, or if the offender is found to be deceased or if the offender is found to be in the custody of another jurisdiction. Also, an exceptional clearance may occur if the case cannot proceed by either prosecution declining the case or the victim refusing to cooperate. Then the incident is counted as cleared."
In all cases, though, "'cleared' means law enforcement has found the perpetrator of the crimes which occurred in the reported incident," she stresses.
The definition of robbery used by the CBI reads: "The taking, or attempting to take, anything of value under confrontational circumstances from the control, custody, or care of another person by force or threat of force or violence and/or putting the victim in fear or immediate harm."
Of 1,236 robberies cited in the DPD data, only 460 cases are designated as having been cleared. The result is a clearance rate of just 37 percent — by far the lowest percentage in any violent-crime category.
Relatively few robberies in Denver circa 2017 took place at homes or residences — a stark contrast with the other offenses in the violent-crime category.
Instead, more than half happened on roads or in areas set aside for parking or camping. And nearly a third of the crimes were at businesses.
Here's the breakdown:
Government/Public Building: 48
Educational Facility: 9
The familiarity of the term "armed robbery" implies that most of those committing crimes of this sort use guns, and "firearm" did indeed correspond to the highest number of reports in this category in Denver last year.
But "personal weapons" such as fists, feet and other body parts, ran a close second, far outdistancing "dangerous weapons," a catch-all that encompasses knives and blunt objects.
Continue for this data:
Personal Weapons (hands, fists, arms, feet, arms, teeth, etc.): 499
Dangerous Weapons: 159
Motor Vehicle as Weapon: 8
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Most robbery victims weren't physically hurt during the crimes committed in Denver circa 2017. But that's not universally true.
Nearly 400 individuals are said to have suffered minor injuries, and more than a hundred others experienced the likes of broken bones, the loss of teeth or being rendered unconscious.
The list is as follows:
Apparent Minor Injury: 393
Severe Laceration: 49
Other Major Injury: 27
Possible Internal Injury: 27
Loss of Teeth: 19
Apparent Broken Bones: 13