Bank robberies in New York City increased 64 percent last year compared with 2002. The total rose from 249 to 408, says the Associated Press.
There were five robberies in just over an hour last week. “I honestly can’t tell you why it’s happening. … It’s just a rash,” said Ed Hausdorf of North Fork Bank, which suffered more than three dozen robberies last year.
Most were holdups by robbers working alone. The AP says “tellers tend to hand over a few thousand dollars rather than risk calling a bandit’s bluff.”
Some banks are installing bulletproof glass “bandit barriers” and surveillance cameras. “I think the banking industry has to do more,” says Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who supports a pending City Council bill to require bandit barriers. Police want more use of exploding cash packs that coat robbers with a bright dye.
Arrests are increasing along with the crime rate: there were 137 through Dec. 28, compared to 64 through Dec. 28, 2002.