Bank Robberies Essay

Bank Robberies: The Steps Banks Have Taken To Prevent Successful Robberies

Bank robberies were traditionally one of the most frequent crimes committed by criminals to get a large amount of money. Banks were subject to robberies because criminals could get a large amount of money in one place at a time. Regardless of the improvement of the bank security, robbers still attempt to rob banks and many of bank robberies are successful. Although, as a rule, the bank robberies committed in the US are investigated and criminals are imprisoned.

i. How many banks have been robbed

On analyzing the existing statistics concerning bank robberies, it is worth mentioning the fact that amount of bank robberies steadily increases. In this respect, it is possible to refer to statistics (See Appendices), according to which the number of banks that have been robbed in 2005 was 6,957, whereas in 2006 the number of banks that have been robbed increased up to 7,272 (FBI, 2009). Within a year the amount of banks that have been robbed increased more than 300.

1. How much do most robbers get

The amount of money robbed by criminals has grown respectively to the increase of bank robberies. To put it more precisely, in 2005, criminals got over USD 64 millions, while in 2006, they got over USD 72 millions. The substantial growth of the amount of money being stolen in the result of robberies can be explained by the growth of the number of bank robberies. Remarkably, criminals mainly got cash and checks.

ii. How are they robbed

In spite of the growth of the number of bank robberies, techniques and methods used by criminals have not changed significantly.

1. “Put money in bag” note

The “put money in bag” note is one of the most popular way of bank robberies (See appendices). The number of bank robberies involving this technique exceeds 3,000 annually.

2. Hostile takeovers

Hostile takeovers are also widely spread and often they involve the use of guns and other weapon. As the matter of fact, the use of weapon is extremely popular among bank robbers that increase the risk of injuries and death in the result of bank robberies.

3. Safe Cracking

Safe cracking is one of the traditional methods of bank robberies. At the same time, today safe cracking is quite complicated and modern bank robbers rather prefer to use the “put money in bag” note, oral note or weapon attack, instead of safe cracking. The major reason for decreasing popularity of safe cracking is the high reliability of modern security systems and the large amount of time robbers have to spend on safe cracking. Moreover, in recent years, there have been no vault and safe thefts at all (Hayward, 2004).

4. Hackings

Hackings used to be widely-spread in the past, but similarly to safe cracking, this mode of bank robberies tends to become out of date, whereas criminals prefer to use weapon and threats to get money without hacking.

2.   Instances of Robberies

a.  North Hollywood

i. What happened

The North Hollywood bank robbery occurred in 1997, when two men wearing balck clothes, full body armor and AK-47 robbed the Bank of America on Kittredge and Laurel Canyon.

ii.    How much did they get away with, or could have

The robbers got about USD 330,000 and attempted to get away, but they were surrounded by the police. However, the police officers, who attempted to arrest the robbers were poorly armed and could not stop robbers with AK-47. The robbers attempted to flee from the spot.

iii.   How were the suspects apprehended

However, the police has managed to stop the attackers and shot two robbers dead. At the same time, six police officers and three civilians were wounded and all survived.

b.  Norco Bank

i. What happened

The Norco Bank robbery was one of the most tragic robberies in the history. The robbery occurred in 1980. Five heavy-armed bank robbers attacked the bank. The four robbers stormed into the bank and forced tellers to hand over money, while the fifth robber kept watch outside.

ii.    How much did they get away with

The robbers got USD 20,000 and attempted to get away with it, but an employee at a different bank across the street had managed to call the police and the pursuit had begun.

iii.   How were suspects apprehended

In the result of the pursuit and shooting, two perpetrators and the Sheriff’s depute were killed and eight other Sheriff’s deputies were wounded. All the rest of the five robbers were arrested and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

c.  Bank of America (1998)

i. What happened?

The Bank of America robbery occurred in 1998. This was a daring robbery for it was committed by one person only, the man who handed the note to a bank teller, who handed the money to the robber

ii.  How much did they get away with

The amount of money handed to the robber were undisclosed, but the robber had managed to get away with the money successfully.

iii.   How were suspects apprehended

However, the offender was arrested next day after a retired police officer recognized the suspect from bank surveillance pictures. The robber, E.F. Pelc, Jr. was arrested and sentenced to prison term, being taken into the custody without incidents.

d.  Loomis Fargo Bank

i. What happened

The Loomis Fargo Bank robbery occurred in 1997. The robbery was committed by armored car driver and vault supervisor. The robbery involved eight people, who were directly involved in the robbery, and 16 others who had indirectly helped them.

ii.    How much did they get away with

The robbers got USD 17,3 million in cash.

iii.   How were suspects apprehended

However, the police investigated the case successfully and all the people involved in the robbery were arrested and got their sentences.

3.   Steps Banks have taken to prevent or reduce the amount lost.

a.  Armed Guards

In order to protect banks from robberies, armed guards are used as the major force that can prevent the violent robbery with the use of weapon. However, armed guards are not always able to stop robbers, who often attack banks being heavily equipped, while armed guards are poorly armed compared to robbers. As a result, armed guards cannot resist effectively to well-organized robbery involving the use of weapon, but armed guards can stop offenders who do not use weapon. At any rate, the armed guards can secure the area, detaining robbers and assisting police to arrest offenders.

b.   Dyes

New technologies are used to track offenders and to make robbery useless. In this regard dyes are particularly effective because, when robbers get money with dyes, they cannot use them. As a result, the robbery itself becomes pointless.

c.  Fake Money

Alternatively to dyes, bank use fake money, which as absolutely useless. On the other hand, banks cannot always use fake money, especially if robbers are prepared to the robbery and have shriveled the bank security system foreseeing the risk of getting fake money. Potentially, the use of fake money can provoke aggression from the part of robbers that may result in the violence. In this regard, dyes seem to be more effective because they start working when offenders have already got the money they wanted.

d.  Silent Alarms

Silent alarms are effective preventing systems, which can inform the police and guards about the bank robbery. Silent alarms cannot be noticed by robbers, while police can surround the robbers and arrest them, if no complications, such as taking hostages, occur.

e.  FBI Investigations

FBI investigations proved to be quite effective, but not all investigations conducted by FBI agents cab be successful. In fact, FBI investigations actually deal with effects, but not the cause of bank robberies. Therefore, they cannot prevent the bank robbery.

f.  Surveillance

Surveillance is used as a supportive tool that helps to investigate bank robberies. The surveillance has proved its effectiveness in the case of the Bank of America robbery in 1998, but surveillance, similarly to FBI investigations cannot stop bank robberies but it helps to arrest criminals.

4.   Conclusion

a.  Are banks safer than ever

Today, banks are equipped with modern alarm systems which help the police and law enforcement agencies respond faster to bank robberies. The use of new technologies minimizes the risk of vault and safe thefts, but even the most technological security systems are useless in face of weapon bank robberies, or “put money in bag” notes or oral demands.

b.  Are the methods that they use to prevent robberies a waste or do they serve a cause

In such a way, new methods used by banks are partially effective because they prevent the risk of unsanctioned access of robbers to banks and vault or safe theft, but still armed guards and police assistance is needed when bank is attacked by armed robbers.

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