A boom in bank robberies, many of them fueled by criminals in search of money for drugs, is alarming law-enforcement officials across the nation, says NBC News. After declining a couple of years ago, robberies in the U.S. are on the rise again, says the FBI, and two recent violent cases prove just how dangerous those crimes can be. In Bessemer, Al., a bank robbery in mid-May erupted in gunfire, leaving two tellers dead and two injured. A week later, in Chicago, three armed robbers stormed another bank, killing one teller, and injuring a customer and a security guard.
The trend is acute in “pockets” like like Detroit, Chicago, Dallas and Boston,” says FBI Assistant Director Kenneth Kaiser. Maj. Harold Winsett of the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office in Tampa, says that as robbers “become more brazen, the tendency to become more violent is there, because they get cocky, they get confident in what they’re doing. When someone gets captured or confronted in a bank, that scenario turns violent very quickly.” Authorities say the primary reason bank robbers strike is to support addictions to drugs, alcohol or gambling. “Fifty percent of them have a drug addiction problem,” says the FBI’s Kaiser. Adds Winsett: “The money’s gone shortly after they leave the bank, because they’re spending it on drugs or some other type of habit. They’re not savers. They don’t take from one (bank), and go deposit it in another.” The FBI says that of the $70 million taken from banks last year, only $9.5 million has been recovered.