Authorities report an unusual surge in bank robberies during the last few months in several U.S. cities, says USA Today. The FBI is concerned that bank robberies – generally a high-risk, low-reward type of crime – might be increasing again after declining nationwide since 2001. It’s unclear why Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and other cities are seeing a jump, but it appears to be part of a general increase in violent crimes. Says the FBI’s Chip Burrus: “There’s an awful lot of gang activity out there, and a certain percentage (of gang crimes) are going to be bank robberies.”
Laura Eimiller of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office says the rise in robberies there comes even as increased security measures have made the risks for bank robbers greater, and the rewards less. More security cameras and tiny dye packs designed to explode after a robber leaves a bank with cash generally have made it more likely that robbers will be caught. Bank tellers now typically have less than $1,000 in their cash drawers, making huge heists unlikely. “It is a stupid crime,” Eimiller says. “When you get caught, you’re going to go away for a long, long time, particularly if you use a gun.” Bank robbery is a federal crime. Those who use a weapon – or a fake weapon – face up to 25 years in prison. Los Angeles leads the nation in bank robberies. About two-thirds of the 249 bank robberies that have been committed there this year have been non-violent “note jobs,” in which a robber has approached a teller with a note demanding money.