Bank Holdups Double In Chicago: “Act Of Desperation”


Bank holdups in the Chicago area are happening, quietly and by the dozens–and more than twice as often as last summer, reports the Chicago Tribune. The 42nd robbery at a Chicago bank since June 1 was reported yesterday. There were 19 over the same period last year. Most real-world bank robberies aren’t like the movies, where masked men storm into a bank wielding guns, screaming at customers while they empty the bank vault. Robbers are more likely to pass a note to a teller, who quietly gives up the cash while customers continue to do business nearby.

Some of the recent Chicago robbers wore disguises like painters’ clothes, a sheriff’s uniform, a nylon stocking over the face. Others just walked in as themselves and handed a note to a teller. Bank robberies occur in spurts; the FBI doesn’t speculate about why the number of robberies is going up or down. The average take is about $2,000 and most bank robbers get caught. The FBI says its solution rate is about three out of every four robberies. A conviction on one count of robbery carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. Why are people still holding up banks? “It’s very much an act of desperation,” said Troy Evans, a convicted bank robber who shares his experiences on the speaker circuit. Evans, who lives in Arizona, said he talked to 300 convicted bank robbers during his seven-plus years in a federal prison in Colorado. The common theme was a desperation for money–to finance a drug habit or to repay a debt. Most people who rob banks don’t see another way out.


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