Chicago area bank robberies pass 2011 level — and it’s only August
BY KARA SPAK Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org August 8, 2012 4:40PM
Bank Robbery suspect at TCF bank, Hickory Hills on August 6, 2012. BranditTrackerCHICAGO.com image
Chicago-area bank robberies in the last 10 years
2012 - 117*
2011 - 115
2010 - 203
2009 - 190
2008 - 277
2007 - 226
2006 - 284
2005 - 238
2004 - 160
2003 - 151
* As of Aug. 8
Five Bank Robbery Facts
1) $38.3 million in cash was robbed from U.S. banks in 2011. Slightly more than $8 million was recovered.
2) More bank robberies happen on Friday than any other day of the week.
3) The most common time of day to rob a bank is between 9 and 11 a.m.
4) A demand note is used more often than a weapon.
5) Thirteen people died during bank robberies in the United States in 2011 — 10 perpetrators, 2 law officers and 1 guard.
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:38PM
There’s no Wheaton Bandit, Bomb Lady Bandit or Swine Flu Bandit to blame for the rise in local bank robberies.
Rather, a group of average-looking mopes — likely desperate for cash to fuel drug or gambling addictions — is driving up the number of local bank heists.
The Chicago FBI office has recorded 117 bank robberies so far this year, two more than in all of 2011.
Ross Rice, FBI spokesman, said 2011 was simply “a really slow year.”
“People didn’t rob banks,” he said. “It’s really that simple. Less people robbed banks and we don’t know why.”
Since Monday, three local banks were robbed — one in Bridgeview, one in Northlake and one on Chicago’s South Side. Clear pictures of two of the robbers are at bandittrackerchicago.com, a collaborative website created in 2009 by the Chicago FBI office, Chicago Police Department and Cook County Sheriff.
Improvements in digital photography — and the banking industry’s willingness to use it — has led to perpetrator photos that look nearly as clear as a driver’s license picture.
“The industry standard is now one digital camera focused on each teller station,” said William Rehder, a former FBI bank robbery specialist who now works in security consulting. “Before it was catch as catch can.”
Digital photography allows the banks to quickly transmit pictures from their cameras to local law enforcement, said Debbie Jemison, spokeswoman for the Illinois Banking Association.
“Banks have really worked on the positioning of the camera, getting good front pictures of the robbers,” she said.
Collectively, on Bandit Tracker, those pictures form a rogue’s gallery of larcenous everymen.
“There’s no such thing as the prototypical bank robber,” Rehder said. “He looks like the boy next door.”
The Chicago FBI office solves 75 percent of bank robberies, Rice said. One reason why: They get tips from people who see the pictures posted on Bandit Tracker.
“It never ceases to amaze us that people go to banks [to rob them] with no attempt to disguise their identity,” Rice said. “You combine that with Bandit Tracker and we get a tremendous amount of tips.”
Rice said some breaks come from the unlikeliest of tipsters — the robbers.
“We’ve had cases where people go out to rob a bank, go to Bandit Tracker and see the photo of themselves robbing the bank, and then they call the office and turn themselves into the police,” he said.
Chicago area bank robberies peaked at 284 in 2006. While it’s tempting to pin this year’s bump in bank robberies on the sluggish economy, it’s also wrong, Rice said.
“Look at 2006 — the economy was great,” Rice said. “That was a record year for bank robberies.”