When Xuyen Phan visited her Pearland, Tx., bank last Friday, it was to get extra cash for holiday shopping. Instead, the 24-year-old science teacher spent five terrifying hours as a hostage in a violent standoff with an armed and desperate bank robber, says the Houston Chronicle. These types of dangerous “takeover” bank robberies – where assailants brandish pistols or assault rifles – have increased recently, helping to fuel an unprecedented number of bank robberies in the region last year.
In 2010, there were 171 bank robberies in Houston and Harris County, up from 155 in 2009 and 131 the year before, said FBI agent Shauna Dunlap. “The 2010 totals are the largest number of bank robberies that we’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Dunlap said. Houston’s bank robbers were a diverse and eclectic bunch, drawing from various racial, gender,and age groups. There was a matronly “Bad Granny,” a stylishly dressed “Fashionable Female,” a gruff “Rude Robber,” and a pistol-waving “Reckless Robber.”