Bank robbers once needed to take hostages, wield guns, or crack safes to get their loot. Now the job often requires little more than a pair of dark sunglasses and a menacing note.
That’s a scenario the FBI has seen unfold in financial institutions across the country, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Bank robberies rose 64 percent last year in New York City. Massachusetts saw a 30 percent rise – to 303 robberies. Heists were also up statewide in Utah, Oregon, and Oklahoma.
Nationwide, there wasn’t an overall jump in robberies in 2003. But bank robberies tripled in some cities.
Why? Some blame a bad economy. Most agree that longer banking hours, additional branches, and friendlier environments have played at least a partial role in the way banks are robbed, and the number of times they are hit.
“Banks, which used to be structured like vaults, with armed guards, and all kinds of imposing structures that said, ‘Don’t mess with us,’ have in general moved to an open, friendly tone, as a means of encouraging depositors to come in and use the bank,” says Alfred Blumstein of the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. “That same appeal could well appeal to bank robbers.”