While they are happening, most bank robberies are a private affair between a robber and a teller. That wasn’t the case last July when a man wearing a stocking over his face and a baseball cap on his head entered a Chicago bank and flashed a blue-steel, snub-nosed revolver, says the Chicago Tribune. After ordering employees to the floor, he jumped over the teller counter, demanded that the vault be opened and filled bags with stacks of cash, fleeing with more than $225,000. The stickup–the kind seen more often in movies than reality–was what authorities call a “takeover,” the most dangerous form of bank robbery and a style that has become increasingly common in the Chicago area.
In a year when the decade-old record for Chicago-area bank robberies was broken, more than a fifth of the 214 bank robberies have been takeovers, a proportion the FBI said is higher than in past years. In 2003, there were 18, or 12 percent of all bank robberies. Takeovers often last several minutes because time is needed to issue commands to employees and raid multiple cash drawers or vaults. Chicago FBI officials said their “solution rate” for 2005 is running between 60 percent and 65 percent. Past increases in bank robberies have been attributed to poor economic conditions, serial robbers, and the expansion of bank branches into grocery stores and other less-secure retail environments.