Criminal Justice

Old-fashioned bank robberies are declining


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Bank robberies are on the decline as they prove less lucrative than other crimes.

At least 6,000 bank robberies were reported from 1987 to 2006, but the number declined to 5,000 or fewer robberies for five out of the next six years, the Press Enterprise reports. In 2012, there were only 3,870 bank robberies. The FBI hasn’t yet published figures for 2013.

The average take in a bank robbery is about $4,000, the story notes, citing figures provided by Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI office in Los Angeles. The threat of long prison sentences, with more years tacked on for using a gun, is among the deterrents, Eimiller said.

Sixty percent of bank robbers are apprehended within 18 months of their crime, according to the American Bankers Association. The group’s vice president of risk management, Doug Johnson, says other deterrents include exploding dye packs inserted in stolen cash, better surveillance video and bullet-proof glass.

Tampering with an ATM—which isn’t considered a bank robbery—can be more lucrative. The take can be $30,000 to $40,000. “We’re seeing an increase in ATM skimming at the same time we’re seeing a decrease in bank robberies,” Johnson told the Press-Enterprise.

Meanwhile, the type of bank robber is also changing. Bank robbers in the Great Depression became folk heroes; now bank robbers are more likely to be drug users or people driven by desperation, according to retired FBI special agent Jerry Clark, now a criminal justice professor at Gannon University in Pennsylvania.

Hat tip to Pat’s Papers.

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