Bank robbery
Overview
 
Bank robbery is the crime of stealing
Robbery
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear....

 from a bank
Bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

 during opening hours. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, robbery is "the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear." By contrast, burglary is defined as, "unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft." Bank robbery is therefore defined as entering a bank when it is open and obtaining money either by using force or the threat of force.
Encyclopedia
Bank robbery is the crime of stealing
Robbery
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear....

 from a bank
Bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

 during opening hours. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, robbery is "the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear." By contrast, burglary is defined as, "unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft." Bank robbery is therefore defined as entering a bank when it is open and obtaining money either by using force or the threat of force. Breaking into a bank when it is closed is burglary.

Locations

Bank robbery occurs most frequently in cities and large towns. This concentration is often attributed to there being more branches in urban areas, but the number of bank robberies is disproportionately higher than the number of branches. In Canada, for example, seven cities have 30% of all bank branches but 66% of all bank robberies; in the United Kingdom, London has 10% of the nation's branches but 39% of its bank robberies.

This has advantages both for bank robbers and for the law enforcement community. Being in urban areas the transportation infrastructure is more highly developed, especially where banks tend to cluster near to retail shopping areas and commercial districts. Such banks are highly profitable targets for bank robbers who are then afforded a number of potential escape routes. The law enforcement community benefit by being able to respond more quickly, and the likelihood of catching a bank robber on or near the scene is higher than for other types of crime. This is because most bank robberies are reported very quickly, frequently while the crime is in progress; most bank robberies occur during daylight hours, have multiple witnesses and with modern technology often produce photographic images that can be distributed and used immediately to canvass the local area. Consequently, many robbers are caught the same day. In fact, the clearance rate
Clearance rate
In criminal justice, clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are "cleared" by the total number of crimes recorded. Clearance rates are used by various groups as a measure of crimes solved by the police....

 for bank robbery is among the highest of all crimes, at nearly 60%.

The urban location of the crime also contributes to its repeat victimization profile, a measure of how quickly a crime victim will suffer a repeat of the original crime. One study carried out by the Home Office
Home Office
The Home Office is the United Kingdom government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order. As such it is responsible for the police, UK Border Agency, and the Security Service . It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs,...

 found that in England, one third of banks at which a robbery has occurred will be robbed again within three months, while the same study found that in Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

, one quarter of robbed banks will suffer repeat robbery within a week, and over half of robbed banks will be robbed again within a month.

Characteristics

The Australian Institute of Criminology analyzed trends in bank robbery over a four year period. Of the 808 bank robbery incidents between January 1998 and May 2002 in which the number of offenders involved in the hold-up was recorded, 55% were committed by lone offenders, 25% by pairs, and 20% by three or more robbers. Unarmed lone offenders accounted for 28% of robberies, caused the least number of injuries to victims (one percent of all victims' injuries), were the type of robber who most often used a note to threaten bank staff (46% of all their robberies), and failed most often in their robbery attempts (33% failure). Unarmed gangs inflicted the most injuries to victims (51%) and failed the least in their robbery attempts (6% failure). Armed robbers used a disguise more often compared to unarmed robbers, with armed pairs employing disguises most often (59%).

According to the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics injuries occur in about two percent and a death occurs in less than one percent of all U.S. bank robberies.
Violent takeover bank robberies are rare. The majority of bank robberies taking place today are so called "note jobs." These are usually accomplished by simply passing a written note to the teller demanding money. The idea is to attract as little attention as possible. In most cases, other customers present in the bank during such a robbery are unaware of what is occurring. Standard bank policy is to avoid violence as much as possible, so they will normally hand over the money and try to adhere to the robber's demands. The robber usually makes away with cash, but typically in relatively small amounts.

History

The first bank robbery in the United States is often claimed to have taken place at the Clay County Savings Association
Clay County Savings Association Building
The Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri was the scene of the first daylight bank robbery which is believed to have been conducted on February 13, 1866 by members of the James-Younger Gang...

 in Liberty, Missouri
Liberty, Missouri
Liberty is a city in Clay County, Missouri and is a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. At the 2007 population estimate, the city population was 29,993...

, on 13 February 1866 when several men believed to be members of the James-Younger Gang
James-Younger gang
The James-Younger Gang was a notable 19th-century gang of American outlaws that included Jesse James.The gang was centered in the state of Missouri. Membership fluctuated from robbery to robbery, as the outlaws' raids were usually separated by many months...

 shot a 19-year-old student and escaped with $60,000. This is also claimed (including by the museum established at the bank where it happened) as the first bank robbery in daylight in peacetime,
to distinguish it from robberies such as that from the banks at St Albans, Vermont
St. Albans (city), Vermont
St. Albans is a city in and the shire town of Franklin County, Vermont, in the United States. At the 2000 census, the city population was 7,650. St Albans City is completely surrounded by St. Albans town, which is incorporated separately from the city of St. Albans...

 more than a year earlier which were perpetrated by Confederate soldiers
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 and which some historians consider to be not robberies proper but acts of war
Casus belli
is a Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. means "incident", "rupture" or indeed "case", while means bellic...

.

However, twenty-five months earlier, just before noon on 15 December 1863 a man walked into a bank in Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Middlesex County, Massachusetts
-National protected areas:* Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge* Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge* Longfellow National Historic Site* Lowell National Historical Park* Minute Man National Historical Park* Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge...

 and shot the 17-year-old bookkeeper and stole $3,000 in large bills and a further $2,000 in small bills. The directors of the bank offered a $6,000 reward for the arrest of the murderer.

An even earlier alleged bank robbery is known to have occurred, but details are few. According to The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, the first bank robbery in United States history took place on 19 March 1831, when the City Bank of New York lost $245,000, but the exact method is not clear so it cannot be confirmed that this was a robbery and not a burglary.

First known use of a getaway car

The 21 December 1911 edition of L'Auto, a popular Paris newspaper, carried an announcement on its front page that a man was offering a reward for information leading to the recovery of his limousine. The same day, two armed men intercepted a bank messenger outside a branch of Société Générale
Société Générale
Société Générale S.A. is a large European Bank and a major Financial Services company that has a substantial global presence. Its registered office is on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, while its head office is in the Tours Société Générale in the business district of La...

 in Paris and took a satchel of money he was about to deliver to the bank.

Historical bank robbers

Jesse James
Jesse James
Jesse Woodson James was an American outlaw, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer from the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. He also faked his own death and was known as J.M James. Already a celebrity when he was alive, he became a legendary...

 was one of the most popular bank robbers in American history. In the early twentieth century Willie Sutton
Willie Sutton
William "Willie" Sutton was a prolific U.S. bank robber. During his forty-year criminal career he stole an estimated $2 million, and eventually spent more than half of his adult life in prison...

 was asked why he robbed banks, and he was famously reported as answering: "Because that's where the money is." This is, in fact, a quote invented by the interviewer to make the story more interesting.

John Dillinger
John Dillinger
John Herbert Dillinger, Jr. was an American bank robber in Depression-era United States. He was charged with, but never convicted of, the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer during a shoot-out. This was his only alleged homicide. His gang robbed two dozen banks and four police stations...

 was another famous bank robber, who robbed banks in mid-western America. Some considered him a dangerous criminal, while others idolized him as a supposed present-day Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

. He gained this latter reputation (and the nickname "Jackrabbit") for his graceful movements during bank heists, such as leaping over the counter (a movement he supposedly copied from the movies) and many narrow getaways from police. On 22 July 1934 in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Dillinger was cornered by FBI agents in an alley outside of a movie theater, where he was shot and killed by an agent.

Prevention

Banks have implemented modern security measures, like motion-sensing and high resolution color security cameras, time-locked
Time lock
A time lock is a part of a locking mechanism commonly found in bank vaults and other high-security containers. The timelock is a timer designed to prevent the opening of the safe or vault until it reaches 0, even if the correct combination are known...

 heavy vault doors, silent alarms, exploding dye pack
Dye pack
A dye pack is a radio-controlled incendiary device used by some banks to preemptively foil a bank robbery by causing stolen cash to be permanently marked with red dye shortly after a robbery....

s, bait money
Bait money
Bait money or bait bills are used by banks to aid the tracing of bank robbers.Bait bills are bills whose serial number is recorded by the bank either by making a copy or by listing in a log book. During a bank robbery if robber has taken the bait money, details of this can be passed on to the police...

 and locator devices. Some banks supplement this protection with armed or unarmed security guard
Security guard
A security guard is a person who is paid to protect property, assets, or people. Security guards are usually privately and formally employed personnel...

s.

Gone are the days when expert safe crackers could crack the code to a vault or safe. Today's biometric technology makes non-violent methods of gaining access nearly impossible. Modern vaults and safes are also reinforced to the point that the amount of explosives needed to blow them open would likely create unwanted attention and run the risk of harming the building to the point of collapse. Even the most impregnable vault or safe needs to be able to be opened by someone. To circumvent vault and safe security features, robbers often kidnap the bank manager, but that is not always a successful workaround as banks have often removed the manager's ability to open the vault.

The police have new measures at their disposal to catch bank robbers, such as well-armed SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 teams, and pursuit cars (often a high-powered vehicle) driven by a trained driver that is capable of keeping pace with getaway cars. Forensic identification techniques have also improved greatly; should a bank robber fire a gun, the police can trace the bullet to the exact firearm using ballistic fingerprinting
Ballistic fingerprinting
Ballistic fingerprinting refers to a set of forensic techniques that rely on marks that firearms leave on bullets to match a bullet to the gun it was fired with...

. Martin Kemp, in a BBC documentary, once inquired on the effectiveness of an Uzi in a bank robbery, to which the firearms training instructor joked "that would be sixty-four pieces of evidence to convict you." The sawn-off shotgun
Sawed-off shotgun
A sawed-off shotgun also called a sawn-off shotgun and a short-barreled shotgun , is a type of shotgun with a shorter gun barrel and often a shorter or absent stock....

, a common robbery weapon in United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand where handguns are difficult to obtain, are easily concealable but not particularly effective.

While it is likely but not certain that the first time someone robs a bank they will not be caught, it is highly likely that if they continue they will be caught. Few criminals are able to make a successful living out of bank robbery over the long run, since each attempt increases the probability that they will be identified and caught. Bank robberies are still fairly common and are indeed successful, although eventually many bank robbers are found and arrested. A report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 states that, among Category I serious crimes, the arrest
Arrest
An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation and prevention of crime and presenting into the criminal justice system or harm to oneself or others...

 rate for bank robbery in 2001 was second only to that of murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

. Today most organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

 groups tend to make their money by other means, such as drug trafficking, gambling
Gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

, loan sharking, identity theft
Identity theft
Identity theft is a form of stealing another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name...

, or online scamming and phishing
Phishing
Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT...

.

A further factor making bank robbery unattractive for criminals in the United States is the severity with which it is prosecuted. Accounts at all U.S. banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is a United States government corporation created by the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933. It provides deposit insurance, which guarantees the safety of deposits in member banks, currently up to $250,000 per depositor per bank. , the FDIC insures deposits at...

, a corporation of the federal government, bringing bank robbery under federal jurisdiction and involving the FBI. United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines for bank robbery mandate long prison terms, which are usually further enhanced by the use or carrying of loaded firearms, prior criminal convictions, and the absence of parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

 from the federal prison
Federal prison
Federal prisons are run by national governments in countries where subdivisions of the country also operate prisons.In the United States federal prisons are operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In Canada the Correctional Service of Canada operates federal prisons. Prison sentences in these...

 system. As with any type of robbery, the fact that bank robbery is also inherently a violent crime
Violent crime
A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end, such as robbery. Violent...

 typically causes corrections administrators to place imprisoned bank robbers in harsher high-security institutions.

See also

  • Armored vehicle robbery
  • Convenience store crime
    Convenience store crime
    For a variety of reasons, convenience stores are often very popular targets for a variety of crimes, most notably shoplifting and robbery. In some cities, convenience store crime has become such a problem that special task forces have been created or some stores have been completely shut down.The...

  • List of famous bank robbers and robberies

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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