The FBI is asking local law enforcement agencies in Oregon to take a lead role in investigating nonviolent bank robberies as the federal agency faces changing priorities, The Oregonian reports. Federal agents will continue to investigate armed bank robberies and serial bank robbery cases, but the FBI will be cut the number of agents responding to unarmed bank holdups, meaning that local police detectives will serve as the primary investigators.
Oregon has recorded 136 bank robberies this year. The FBI predicts the number will reach 170 to 190 by year’s end — a high number compared with the past 10 years. Drugs and crimes of desperation — attributed to the economic downturn — continue to drive the state’s bank heists, federal agents said. An FBI official said the change reflects the agency’s shift of resources away from strictly criminal cases to counterterrorism, national security and mortgage fraud investigations. Gresham, Or., Lt. David Lerwick said the change “will have an impact. It will add investigative time to our detectives’ workload.”