Bank robbery may be the quintessential American crime, immortalized in screaming headlines and Hollywood movies, but it is fading like those grainy old newsreels of Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger, reports the Washington Post. Bank heists have fallen about as fast as any other crime, dropping almost 60 percent in the past quarter century, says the FBI. Robbers are getting away with less and less loot. FBI numbers show the average take has dwindled by nearly half over the past 10 years to just $6,500. When you factor in the FBI’s calculation that bank robbers are caught in greater numbers than any other criminals except killers, experts say smart thieves are coming to the conclusion that the risks now outweigh the rewards.
Gone are the days when bank robbers were the aristocrats of the underworld, when many became household names, and some were celebrated in song as Robin Hood-like folk heroes for bold and daring heists. “Bank robbery is now largely a crime of the desperate,” said Gerald Clark, a former FBI agent and now an assistant professor of criminal justice at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. Today’s bank robber is “the person who needs money now or the drug user looking to get that instant high,” he said.