The Chicago area set a bank robbery record last year with 284, eclipsing the old record by more than 40, said FBI officials quoted by the Chicago Tribune. Investigators have blamed the surge on the sheer number of bank branches that have opened in recent years–including many pocket branches in grocery stores that some robbers might view as being vulnerable. More than a half-dozen offenders in the region are considered to be serial bank robbers. The FBI and local partners on its violent crime task force solved about 60 percent of the robberies last year, down from 70 percent in recent years.
With its concentration on terrorism, an FBI spokesman said that the bureau is not able to assign more agents to work on bank robberies. Said the agent: “Now, with much of our focus being on terrorism, we’re really trying to do more with less.” There are typically 20 to 25 agents and other task force members working Chicago-area bank robberies. The bank robbery pace isn’t abating; there were five in 2007 by yesterday.