FBI: Bank robberies on the rise

Could the tattered economy really be causing people to turn to robbing bans? Maybe. Maybe not. But what I learned from the FBI earlier this week is worth considering nontheless: 29 banks were robbed in 28 days this month. In three instances, thieves who were captured by the FBI had no criminal pasts. Those men told investigators they were robbing the banks because they had been laid off and needed to pay their gas and electric bills:

Times are tough - this we already know.


Millions of people are out of work, and millions more are inching dangerously close to the edge of the cliff as they juggle dwindling finances and mounting debt.

So some figure, why not rob a bank?

FBI officials say they've noticed an alarming rise in the number of local bank robberies - some committed by thieves who just want to pay their bills.

Since the start of the year, 29 banks have been robbed in eastern Pennsylvania and three counties in New Jersey, a 30 percent increase over last year, the FBI said. Twelve banks have been held up in Philadelphia alone.

Some of the suspects appear to be tried-and-true street thugs and drug addicts who flash a gun or a threatening note to get a quick score.

Others, though, have clean backgrounds and motives that might resonate with average folks.

"For the past couple of years, most of the note-job bandits were pathetic drug addicts. Now, we're just seeing guys who lost their jobs and need to pay their bills," said Special Agent Bastian Freund, a bank robbery coordinator for the FBI's Philadelphia Division.

Freund said three '09 bank robbery suspects who have been arrested by FBI agents confessed to pulling the heists because they "couldn't find work and had families to support. That doesn't make it right, but it's a different type of person than we're used to seeing."

Read the rest here.

To see a gallery of recent robberies, click here.