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FBI reports elderly bank robbers part of growing national trend

THE NEW YORK TIMES (August 2, 2004)
"Although it may be tempting to view these bank-robbing grandparents as evidence of a broad moral collapse among older Americans, more likely they say something about the changing nature of the crime of bank robbery. Once the pursuit of hardened, shoot-'em-up bandits like Bonnie and Clyde, and later of violent street gangs packing 9 mm automatic weapons, bank robbery has become a kind of Everyman's felony.

While about half of bank robberies in the United States are still committed by drug addicts desperate for money and a third by veteran bank thieves, law enforcement officials and criminologists say an increasing number are being pulled off by thieves who have a lot more in common with Willie Loman than Willie Sutton. They are teenagers and senior citizens, stay-at-home parents and established career types - in short, anyone at all with an acute need for cash.

[Anfänger dominieren]
The number of bank robberies nationwide has fluctuated for 15 years, spiking during tough economic times and falling during good years. Although violent bank robberies are still a problem, the majority of the 7,412 robberies last year were so-called "note jobs," heists committed by pen and paper rather than a weapon. Twenty-five years ago, according to the FBI, only about a third of robberies were note jobs - the preferred method of the Average Joe and Jane bank robber with no criminal past, experts say.
Security and law enforcement officials say a number of factors are to blame for the democratizing of bank robbery, chief among them the knowledge - widespread among the public - that bank tellers are often instructed to comply with thieves in order to get them out of the bank as quickly as possible.

Michael MacLean, the bank robbery program manager at the FBI's headquarters in Washington, said that robbing a bank once required specialized knowledge, usually passed among veteran thieves. Now, he said, debriefings of bank robbery suspects have revealed "a more general knowledge about how to commit a bank robbery.

Approximately 57 percent of all bank robberies are solved, according to the FBI. Rehder, the former FBI investigator, said the average take in a "note job" is usually between $2,000 and $3,000, far less, he said, than most amateur bank robbers need to get them out of trouble. Many try again, he said, and eventually are caught."

Der ganze Text via Omaha World-Herald AGB

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